River Ideas Lab


Chicago, IL

Chicago has a long history of innovation along its river. The Chicago River Edge Ideas Lab was a 2017 exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial that highlighted nine leading Landscape Architecture and Architecture firms’ visions to reinvent Chicago’s second coast. The exhibition will help inform the next wave of riverfront investment, and will shape future design guidelines for the Chicago River.

Each firm designed a vision that provided inviting and active public spaces for three iconic sites along the Chicago River that connected buildings, open spaces, and bridges. Perkins+Will and Omni Workshop collaborated to create Third Nature: A strategy for the Chicago Riverwalk . Third Nature seeks to redefine the future of the Chicago River by oscillating between First and Second Nature - terms first defined by William Cronon in his groundbreaking book, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. Third Nature improves the river experience by creating an interconnection between social, economic, and environmental values.

Recent visioning, investment, and development along the riverfront serve as inspiration for the River Edge Ideas Lab, and demonstrates how riverfronts can be innovative entertainment, recreation, and business hubs.


Third Nature: A Strategy for the Chicago Riverwalk

The River Opera

The Urban Thread

The River Beach