Goose Island has always been a man-made creation; the artificial island was created in the 1850's, when the Chicago Land Company, owned by the city's first mayor, William B. Ogden, dug a 50-foot-deep channel in the soil. Ever since, the commercial fortunes of the 160-acre plot of land have fluctuated, from the industrial plants that belched enough smoke to earn the area the nickname "Little Hell" to the up-and-coming tech and manufacturing companies seeking to redevelop the island. As Crain's recently examined in an in-depth feature, a proposed master plan, created by real estate investment firm R2 and PORT Urbanism, a local studio and design consultancy, seeks to start a conversation around organizing future growth and development. Intended as a catalyst to bring planners and developers together to start creating a formal plan, it came together in months after those involved realized that nobody had truly created a contemporary vision for the island.
The genesis was in March, according to Zack Cupkovic, R2's Director of Special Projects and Investment Analyst, when during an event discussing development of the area, someone asked if Goose Island had a master plan. Nobody seemed to have an answer, so R2 and PORT decided to lay out their own scenario, including transportation, green energy, boat docks and parks.
Their report lays out what's possible in ten years, with the hopes that coordinated infrastructure and development could turn the island into an internationally recognized commercial and tech center.
"The worst thing that could happen is nothing happens," says Cupkovic. "With such an incredible location, we imagine this could offer a chance to create office campuses in the middle of the city, and become any area filled with incredible buildings."
With the right infrastructure improvements, including linking the island to the grid via bike and pedestrian bridges, and more investment, the resulting momentum could help spur on increased collaboration and put more pressure on the city to play a greater role in reimagining the island.
· Developer Sees Bike-Ped Bridges, Good Design as Keys to Goose Island's Future [Curbed Chicago]
· Goose Island's Latest High Tech Office Project Gets Rendered [Curbed Chicago]
· UI Labs Celebrates Opening of New Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute [Curbed Chicago]