River Edge Ideas Lab


2017 President’s Award


Chicago, IL


Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Metropolitan Planning Council



Landscape Architects

Project Details

The Chicago River Edge Ideas Lab is an exhibition of nine leading landscape architecture and architecture firms’ visions to reinvent Chicago’s second coast. Chicago has a long history of innovation on its rivers. Recent visioning, investments, and development along the riverfront serve as inspiration for the River Edge Ideas Lab, and as a demonstration of how riverfronts can be exciting hubs of entertainment, recreation, and business.

Each firm created their visions for three iconic sites along the Chicago River, with each site representing a typical edge condition: a building edge, an open space edge, and a bridge edge. The challenge for each team was to seamlessly connect these edge conditions and provide inviting and active public spaces.

The proposal by site design group, ltd., entitled “PULSE: Designed to move Chicago,” utilized vibrant colors and bold moves that reflect the concept’s energy and vivacity. PULSE seeks to build on Chicago’s diverse character by creating active spaces that attract all Chicagoans and bring new life to the riverfront. PULSE creates a dynamic and energetic river edge that enhances the city’s sense of self through multipurpose networks and dedicated spaces to play, explore, and move.

The interconnected, sweeping forms that serve as the framework of PULSE represent synthesis, balance, and rhythm in vertical and horizontal planes. Three primary conduits create the skeleton; the Speed Trail serves as a high-paced, adrenaline-inducing path for bikers, runners, and other fast-moving human-powered movements; the Adventure Trail is a dynamic, interactive path that encourages activity through engagement and play; and the Leisure Trail is a laid-back path for walkers, observers, and amblers.

In addition to two-dimensional graphic illustrations, PULSE utilized virtual reality –accessible through a smart phone app used in conjunction with a free lens provided at the exhibit. Online tools, such as a video game-style interactive tour of the sites, and an animated video graphically demonstrate the concepts.
The primary goal of the River Edge Ideas Lab is to help inform the next wave of riverfront investment. The exhibit encourages Chicagoans to examine the ideas and share their opinions about the best and most engaging concepts. Ultimately, the ideas and public input will inform a set of river edge design guidelines applicable to future development projects along the Chicago River.

Project Team

Project Team: HomeMake Labs

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