Location Chicago, Illinois
Client Chicago Metropolitan Pier & Expansion Authority
Scope Planning, Landscape Architecture
Size 4 million plus square feet
The initial phase of this project included a master planning effort that established the locations for the convention center expansion, as well as the expansion of a 70,000 plus seat domed NFL football stadium (Chicago Bears), and a 1200- room hotel. The expansion program called for the addition of over 900,000 S.F. of exhibit space and 160,000 S.F. of meeting space that would be linked to the two existing buildings. This was complemented by public circulation and service space. The design challenge was to create a major entrance of appropriate scale for this city’s convention center, to create a public space sequence that would link all three buildings into a cohesive complex, and maximize contiguous exhibit hall floor space. The public space that would link the third phase to the rest of the facility had to be on a scale commensurate with the total complex while still being inviting and interesting at a more intimate level. The design solution developed a focal point in the form of a public plaza that became the center of this sports and convention complex. The “Grand Concourse” that resulted from these different design parameters extends from the public arrival plaza at the west, ascends over rail lines, up to the exhibit floor level and then is culminated in a pedestrian bridge that crosses over Lake Shore Drive to the east building and the lake beyond. The path it cuts redefined the center of the complex, organizing the facility with a strong stroke that is visible from downtown Chicago. The plaza is designed to be a pedestrian space that also accommodates vehicular circulation. Granite detailing is used extensively and an active water feature forms the centerpiece of the plaza.