Thursday, June 5th’s Business section of the Chicago Tribune talked about the woes of renovating Navy Pier. It goes beyond the fact that the children’s museum is moving out. Any Chicagoan knows that all of Navy Pier is rather boring and dumpy. It’s only saving grace is its location and views of the city and lake.
The biggest problem with Navy Pier is its lack of an identity. It tries being too many things and it doesn’t do any of them well. The stupid mini-mall carnival-like shops are a joke. There’s only a couple restaurant options none of which are any better than any chain store. The ferris wheel is ok, but nothing notable. The list goes on and on.
Inspiration for what Navy Pier should should be comes from Daniel Burnham who designed Navy Pier formally known as Municipal Pier. His famous quote, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood” has become the slogan for Chicago and certainly should apply to this great pier. Currently Navy Pier is just a random collection of little plans. Throw those little plans on the scrap heat. Burn them to dust and start completely anew. Navy Pier easily has the potential to be a world landmark. Its location is the perfect starting ground. It has an awe-inspiring view of the world’s greatest skyline set on the lake. How to complement this experience? Easy. Imagine ALL of Navy Pier being the world’s greatest greenhouse.
The idea of the urban city neighboring nature is a trademark of Daniel Burnham from which the Navy Pier Greenhouse draws its inspiration. Millions of picture-perfect postcard opportunities would be waiting within and outside the Navy Pier Greenhouse. Imagine a lush tropical setting with the Chicago skyline in the background and the tranquil emerald environment with Lake Michigan gently filling the surroundings. Or simply become consumed in the 3,330 foot long garden complete with meadows, forests, prairies, waterfalls and all that nature offers. It would be a memorable experience for all those who visit.
Of course there’s the environmentally-conscious side to all this. Chicago prides itself on its focus to be a world-class green city. The Navy Pier Greenhouse would be the greatest symbol of such. A trademark image of Chicago would become the glistening reflective glow of the Navy Pier Greenhouse settled in Lake Michigan with the broad shoulders of the Chicago skyline proudly looking over this gem.