Newly Completed Chicago Riverwalk Celebrated By Community

Awards, Projects | May 20, 2017


Photo of kayakers at the Chicago Riverwalk opening weekend

Summer is in full swing along Chicago’s Riverwalk, which now boasts an array of welcoming spaces along a 1.25-mile stretch of the Chicago River. Benesch provided structural design and construction management for the overall $108 million project, which has dramatically transformed the riverbank into Chicago’s “Second Shoreline,” a promenade filled with recreational amenities, economic growth potential and access to the river.

The official summer Season Opening was held on May 20th, including sold out river cruises with the Chicago Architecture Foundation and other cruise lines, family-friendly activities, bascule bridge lift viewings, music and more.

The Riverwalk includes several new sections, known as “rooms,” that include: The Water Plaza (from LaSalle to Wells), featuring a water feature for children and families along the river’s edge; the Jetty (from Wells to Franklin), featuring a series of piers and floating wetland gardens; and the Riverbank (from Franklin to Lake), featuring a public lawn and accessible walkway to Lake Street and upper Wacker Drive.

Other rooms along the Riverwalk include The Marina Plaza, The Cove and The River Theater, offering restaurants, docking areas and more.

The ecologically-sensitive Riverwalk design improves water quality for recreational use and aquatic life. The overall project involved a number of very complex and unique engineering challenges, including the need to extend the south bank of the Chicago River out by 25 feet. As a subconsultant to Sasaki, Benesch provided design plans for all structural components along the Riverwalk and completed the required hydraulic report detailing impacts to the river, including modeling for reverse flows and flood events.

Since its completion, the Riverwalk has been recognized by the Construction Management Association of America – Chicago Chapter, Structural Engineer Association of Illinois, ILASLA and the Architect’s Newspaper for its significant contributions to the industry in both the design and construction of complex urban infrastructure.