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Architectural firms dream up new riverfront spaces—including a zip line, pools and performance spaces

Written by
Stephanie Bernstein

City Winery's River Domes may have some stiff competition in the near future. The Chicago River Edge Ideas Lab, an initiative of the city's Department of Planning and Development, asked nine architectural firms to submit concepts for a reimagined Chicago riverfront. The original ideas are now on display—and they're nothing short of spectacular.

Firms like Studio Gang, SWA and Ross Barney Architects created detailed designs that include intricate renderings and a survey for public opinions. The hypothetical concepts range from water-filled playground for kids and reinvented green spaces to performance stages outside the Civic Opera Building and a zip line across the river. Beyond encouraging Chicagoans to marvel at what could be, the city is asking everyone to weigh in with feedback "that will steer future development projects along the Chicago River." In other words, if you're interested in seeing that zip line IRL, say something.

To check out all of the fantastical concepts, which are presented in partnership with the Chicago Architectural Biennial, visit the full exhibit at Expo 72 now through January 7. In the meantime, here are a few of our favorite visions. 

Adjaye Associates

Ross Barney Architects




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