Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Developer: Chicago Department of Transportation
Designer: Ross Barney Architects (all phases), Sasaki (phases II and III), Alfred Benesch & Company (phases II and III), Jacobs/Ryan Associates (all phases), and Collins Engineers (Phase I)
Size: 1.25-mile (2 km) linear park
The Chicago Riverwalk, which reused derelict infrastructure, is a 1.25-mile-long (2 km) civic space between Lake Michigan and the confluence of the Main Stem, North Branch, and South Branch of the Chicago River.
This reinvention of urban life is at the heart of a new chapter for Chicago in which public space becomes a gathering ground for residents. Providing sweeping views and new connectivity, this civic amenity reunites the river and the city.
Conceptually, the park references the infrastructure that defines it by creating distinctive rooms between the bridges that cross the river. These new connections enrich and diversify life along the water, with each block taking on a particular character and typology, from hardscaped civic space to naturally planted shoreline.
What might have been unimaginable years ago when Chicago turned its back on a natural asset has been achieved—an activated riverfront in the heart of a booming urban core. The Chicago Riverwalk has become the city’s living room—an urban counterpoint to the city’s “front yard,” Grant Park. The city’s newest civic space has been activated with a wine bar, kayak tours, boat docking services, water taxi service, and myriad public elements.