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About the Centennial Vision

A Framework for Reimagination

Historic Navy Pier is an iconic thread in the fabric of Chicago. As the world’s largest public pier, it is a top-attended leisure destination in the Midwest, attracting more than 9 million guests a year. When they arrive, those guests discover an exciting, ever-evolving “People’s Pier” for the 21st century, featuring an array of arts, cultural, educational, entertainment and special events programming that offers a uniquely Chicago experience.

In honor of its 100th anniversary, Navy Pier unveiled dramatically reimagined, pier-wide enhancements, new dining options, and compelling landscape and design features that continue to elevate the Pier’s status. 

Video: Marilynn Gardner, President & CEO, Navy Pier, Inc., shares an update on Navy Pier’s progress with the City Club of Chicago. (Recorded June 30, 2016)

In the summer of 2016, Navy Pier completed the first phase of a comprehensive redevelopment plan, titled, the“Centennial Vision.” The plan has become a reality in the form of the beautiful new Polk Bros Park Fountain and Plaza as the gateway to the Pier, a greener and more contemporary South Dock promenade, an authentic Chicago Food Experience, and the grand new Centennial Wheel.

Looking ahead, Navy Pier has even bolder plans for the completion of two outdoor performance areas in Polk Bros Park, a modernized Family Pavilion, an architecturally enhanced East End Plaza, and the additions of both a new, 240-room, boutique hotel and an innovative expansion of the Tony Award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater, called The Yard.

Additionally, Navy Pier’s Centennial Vision also calls for a new strategic direction in programming that will transform this venue into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures. In the summer of 2016 summer alone, pilot programs for art, theater, music, fitness and dance productions introduced the Pier to new audiences. Now, as it enters its second century as a non-profit, Navy Pier seeks enthusiastic supporters and partners who share its vision to be a vibrant civic space that makes memories for guests from across the street and around the globe.

The Centennial Vision: In Depth

Pierscape: Navy Pier offers one of the most dramatically diverse vistas in North America. Its unique location allows visitors to connect with land, air and water – and a vibrant city center. Navy Pier and its lead architect James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) have reimagined the Pier’s public realm, which includes Polk Bros Park, Pier Park, the South Dock and East End Park – along with smaller public spaces along the length of the Pier. Recreating the Pierscape has included changes to the landscape and streetscape, the introduction of public art and water features, and relighting the Pier’s exterior. Reimagining the Pierscape presents the opportunity to address a green agenda by ensuring that the new urban elements respond to the environment.

South Arcade: The South Arcade indoor walkway has been converted into a Chicago-themed food experience. The merchandising strategy is casual in character with a focus on products by Chicago merchants that are unique, diverse and changing.

Family Pavilion: The Family Pavilion is the entry hall of Navy Pier, its front door, and a connection point to the rest of the Pier. It is anchored with family activities and uses and is served by restaurants, retail shops, and kiosks. Merchandising and design will focus on the family and leisure market and draw on Chicago authenticity. The retail and food partners in this area take their cues from the anchors and are essential for generating revenue to support the ongoing operation of Navy Pier.

Festival Hall: This venue has been an important destination for festivals, pageants and special events. Consumer focused programming will remain an important part of the ongoing Pier vision, with events like SOFA, Winter WonderFest, and the Chicago Flower and Garden Show continuing to draw year-round visitors. The plan also will look to create better connections between the interior of the building and the South Dock.

Events and Entertainment: An important objective of the plan is broadening the Pier’s appeal, particularly among adults in the evening and throughout its off-season. Navy Pier’s ACE staff (Arts, Culture and Events) is working on creating new entertainment options toward the east end of the Pier that draw on Chicago’s musical and performing arts traditions. Part of this plan is already underway, with the development of The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, the Theater’s third year-round performance venue.

Boutique Hotel: The east end of Navy Pier is a unique setting, unlike any other in Chicago. The Centennial Vision capitalizes on this asset by locating a small hotel at the Pier’s east end — a boutique hotel adjacent to and including the historic Terminal Building. This hotel can also take advantage of its South Dock frontage for restaurant use and has the ability to incorporate a dramatic rooftop terrace for dining and special events and offers some of the best views of the Chicago skyline. Navy Pier will further explore the feasibility of this with interested developers.

Capital Cost

Phase I of the redevelopment, which includes Pierscape, redesigning the Pier’s public outdoor spaces, and improvements to the interior of the Family Pavilion and South Arcade, is budgeted by Navy Pier Inc. (NPI) at about $115 million with additional funding from private sources, is scheduled for completion in 2016. Additional improvements would follow, subject to availability of private, commercial, corporate and philanthropic funding.

Potential revenue sources, beyond investment by not-for-profit and commercial partners, may include naming rights, fundraising by Navy Pier, Inc., and surplus cash flow from Navy Pier operations.

The Centennial Vision Press Room

7/17/14 Navy Pier Announces $20 Million Legacy Gift from Polk Family
Press Release
9/25/13 Navy Pier Open Through Renovation
Press Release
6/17/13 Navy Pier Evaluation Proposals for Phase I of Pierscape Redesign Construction
Press Release
5/17/13 Navy Pier Unveils Design for Redevelopment Plan Transforming “People’s Pier” Into Spectacular World-Class Destination
Press Release
5/16/13 Navy Pier, Inc. and Design Firms To Detail Redevelopment Plan
Media Alert
3/15/13 Navy Pier, Inc. Board Selects James Corner Field Operations to Lead Pierscape Design Project
Press Release
1/31/12 Design Team Finalists Present Concepts for Pierscape Redevelopment at Public Forum
Press Release | Media Alert
1/23/12 Navy Pier, Inc. will host public exhibition for five finalists in Pierscape redevelopment
Press Release
10/24/11 Eleven Teams Invited to Participate in Second Phase of International Search to Redesign Navy Pier’s Public Space
Press Release
9/1/11 Navy Pier Launches International Search for Team to Design Pier’s Public Spaces
Press Release
6/30/11 The Centennial Vision: Navy Pier As World-Class Attraction With Expanded Year-Round and Evening Attractions, More Dramatic Public Spaces
Press Release | Executive Summary
James Corner Centennial Vision Videos

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