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Chicago Riverwalk among 13 international projects to earn global design award

The accolades keep coming for the public waterfront amenity

Christian Phillips

In case there was any lingering doubt of its resounding success, the Chicago Riverwalk has earned another accolade. It was announced today that the 1.25-mile-long linear waterfront park was among one of 13 projects across North America, Asia, and Europe to be recognized by the Urban Land Institute’s annual Global Awards for Excellence. The honor—which has been around since 1979—represents the project’s 19th major award, according to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Stretching from Lake Street to Lake Michigan, the Chicago Riverwalk features six block-long “rooms” with distinctive designs and civic programming. The project wrapped up its third and final phase of construction last fall. Firms honored in the recent ULI announcement include Ross Barney Architects (all phases), Sasaki (phases 2 and 3), Alfred Benesch & Company (phases 2 and 3), Jacobs/Ryan Associates (all phases), and Collins Engineers (phase 1).

A diagram illustrating five of the Chicago Riverwalk’s six unique “rooms.”

Meanwhile Milwaukee, the Windy City’s neighbor to the north, also earned a Global Awards for Excellence for its own downtown riverwalk. Unlike Chicago’s waterfront promenade which was already in the heart of the thriving Loop neighborhood, Milwaukee’s riverfront project served as a catalyst for new mixed-use construction and adaptive reuse along a previously abandoned industrial corridor.