Attempting to Become More Appealing, Chicago’s Navy Pier Issues Call for Redesign Plans

Speaking of unwelcoming architecture, as we were in that last post, Chicago’s Navy Pier, which is visited annually by throngs of unfortunate tourists who don’t know any better, suburbanites who think its the only place safe in the city or who want to stock up on celtic-themed trinkets while wolfing down a chili dog, or very reluctant locals who are only there to see something at the NPR-affilite or catch a show at the Shakespeare Theater before hightailing it out as quickly as they can, is finally deciding to try and refresh its perception. Yesterday, its owner, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and its non-profit management, Navy Pier Inc., issued a request (pdf) for plans to redesign the space, making it approachable to more people (particularly, it seems, we jaded locals). Those interested have until October 6th to submit their qualifications. From there, after a series of weedings-out are performed, eventually five finalists will be given $50,000 to create their design proposals, which will go on public display early next year. The Chicago Tribune‘s Blair Kamin writes that there’s already been some interest at some heavy-hitting firms like the local Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, so it could turn interesting. Here’s a bit about what the Pier is after:

The planning framework aims to build on the Pier’s success to assure its continued growth in coming years. A key goal is to maintain the Pier’s family appeal while drawing more adults and year-round visitors with upscale dining and entertainment options and more aesthetically appealing public spaces that take full advantage of the Pier’s unique setting.

…Teams submitting proposals for the Pierscape design should address conditions including, permanent and temporary installations of public art, landscaping, hardscape, interactive water features, lighting, signage and graphics, and street furniture and other urban design elements.