Just when we had thought they were one or two continents away from taking over the world's built environment, Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas have joined the ranks of those dropped from the Chicago Navy Pier redesign competition. In their stead, Navy Pier officials have selected AECOM, Aedas Architects, James Corner Field Operations, HOK and the Xavier Vendrell Studio to head five competing design teams.
Rest assured, not all is lost for starchitecture. As the Chicago Tribune reports, BIG has made its way onto the AECOM team and British firm Grimshaw Architects is on the Xavier Vendrell Studio roster. Though Xavier Vendrell Studio is the only Chicago office to head a design team, smaller Chicago-based firms have outnumbered the more familiar international players in the process of redeveloping Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Illinois tourist attraction. Pier executives hope the winning design will transform the 3,000-foot-long pier into a “truly world class public space."
To our surprise, Chicago-based Studio Gang, paired with OMA, was left off the shortlist, suggesting that the competition was not about home court advantage. Pier officials did not disclose the criteria used to narrow the list of competing teams, but the dismissal of Rem and Zaha for such a coveted commission is a refreshing change of pace and a breath of hope for the “99%” of practicing architects.
The winning team, or teams, will be announced early next year in February.