The Big Shift: A Speculative Project for Chicago's Lakefront 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial
The Big Shift imagines a scenario wherein Chicago embraces the lakefront’s latent potential by proposing a dramatic, yet conceptually simple infrastructural transformation. By shifting the 1.5-mile stretch of LSD running along Grant Park eastward, the city could create hundreds of acres of new lakefront real estate—importantly, west of LSD—that would generate enormous long-term revenue streams, despite the significant upfront infrastructural costs of the endeavor. Further, the ‘shift’ would allow for the reconfiguration of LSD—changing its alignment and sinking portions of it to reduce its adverse impact on pedestrian and bike access to the lakefront.
More significantly, the project would serve to enhance two of Chicago’s most beloved public spaces. A fourth street wall would frame the east side of Grant Park, while stately, tree-lined boulevards would connect from the west side of the existing park across the new development district to a world-class 130-acre public waterfront. This newly configured lakefront would include softly rolling topography, beaches, spaces of prospect and refuge, as well as generous planting and furnishing. The proposal would more than triple the size of the current lakefront adjacent to Grant Park, providing the recreational amenities now missing from the area.
Simply put, the Big Shift imagines a scenario where a public infrastructural renovation is leveraged to create urgently needed municipal revenue sources while simultaneously enhancing and expanding Chicago’s most important public spaces and civic assets.