Earlier this summer Chicago lost its chance to build the Lucas Museum, a futuristic looking building from the Star Wars creator that would have transformed the look of Chicago’s lakefront. And news of the Lucas Museum came after plans fell through for another ambitious project, the Chicago Spire skyscraper–a 2,000-foot tower that would have been the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other innovative projects–either proposed or already in the works–that could change how the city looks and operates.
Here are eight projects that could change the look of Chicago.
First announced in 2014, Breakwater Chicago aims to be a “floating resort” and event space on Lake Michigan. The 300 foot by 100 foot island plans to feature a swimming pool, spa, lounge, shops, restaurants, and access via water taxi, and it expects to cost $23 million. There’s no firm timetable on when the project will be completed, but the company has said things “continue to move along nicely.”
The underside of Chicago’s L tracks, while a symbol of the city’s history and girt, are essentially an eyesore. To give the tracks a facelift, the Wabash Lights project wants to install 5,000 programmable LED light tubes to the Wabash stretch of the L that would serve as a public art exhibit underneath an iconic piece of Chicago’s infrastructure. A small beta test began in February on the Wabash L tracks between Monroe St. and Adams St., and the team is hoping to raise enough money to fund the full installation.
Elevated Gondola Rides
In an effort to increase tourism in Chicago, two local business leaders have an ambitious plan: build elevated gondola rides over the Chicago river. Laurence Geller, the head of Geller Capital Partners, and Lou Raizin, the Broadway in Chicago founder, proposed the idea for the aerial gondolas this year. The rides would sit roughly 17 stories above the river and consist of two lines, one along the river and the other along the Lake connecting Navy Pier to Millennium Park. The project expects to cost $250 million and will rely on private funding.
Light Displays on the Lyric Opera Building
Another part of Geller and Raizin’s proposed tourism plan involves projecting live performances on the outside wall of the Lyric Opera Building. Opera shows and other performances held inside the building would be viewable to people across the river. And the idea even has a thumbs up from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Michigan Ave. Apple Store
The construction on the new Michigan Avenue Apple Store, currently underway, will have upper level and lower level entrances and will gives shoppers unobstructed views of the Chicago River. The Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin calls it a “high-tech version of Frank Lloyd Wright’s quintessentially Midwestern Prairie Style homes.”
Looking for a new place to host your next meeting? eCapsula wants to bring portable “private digital enclaves” to Chicago for people to rent for a meeting or just to relax. The pods are equipped with WiFi, TV, reclining seats and adjustable climate control, and plan to be housed in public places like airports, shopping malls, hospitals, and universities. eCapsula announced plans to initially launch in Chicago in May 2017 and expand throughout the US. However, the company’s Indiegogo campaign failed to take off, so there’s no telling when or if these futuristic pods will be come a reality.
Re-envisioning Police Stations
Chicago architect Jeanne Gang has a bold proposal: Change the design of police stations from isolated, uninviting buildings into collaborative community areas with basketball courts and green space. That’s the idea behind Polis Station, a plan to redesign the 10th District police station at 3315 W. Ogden Ave. by introducing community meeting spaces, shared athletic facilities, and an innovation hub into police headquarters. The architecture could eventually ignite a change in police-community relations and “(transform) urban police stations into neighborhood investments that strengthen their communities in return.”
Also from architect Jeanne Gang, Vista Tower is a planned 93-story hotel/condo tower that will be Chicago’s third tallest building. Vista’s striking design will shake up the Chicago skyline, and it will offer residents 360-degree views of the city. The building expects to be finished by 2020.