Chicago gets a new 'Skyline'

Nick Myall
Thursday 05 May 2016

Plans have been revealed for an aerial cable car in Chicago designed by Marks Barfield Architects and Davis Brody Bond

The Chicago Skyline is a proposed new aerial cable car linking Navy Pier, the Chicago Lakefront, the Riverwalk running alongside the Chicago River, and downtown Chicago, USA.

Launched on 3 May by Lou Raizin and Laurence Geller CBE as part of a new vision for Chicago, the Chicago Skyline, if granted permission, will showcase an aerial vista of Chicago and its architectural heritage to the eyes of the world. 

(see link at 26.42 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JKlTgpU_EE)

The Chicago Skyline is a sophisticated, environmentally friendly aerial cable car that will be a unique urban experience. Marks Barfield Architects, designers of the hugely successful London Eye, and Davis Brody Bond have designed state-of-the-art, custom-designed passenger pods or ‘gondolas’, that will enable visitors to appreciate the city’s lakefront, skyline and world-class architecture in a completely new way.

Lou Raizin commented: “The Skyline is a prime example of how we can move Chicago from old guard to vanguard. We kept coming back to the same question: what’s our unique feature? Where’s our Eiffel Tower? Where’s our Big Ben? These ideas are our attempt to answer this question and are intended to start a conversation in the city about what we would like our reputation to be in the future.”

In the tradition of the early Loop, the City Beautiful movement, and generations of Chicago skyscrapers, the Skyline blends modern engineering with deeply rooted architectural values. The Skyline was inspired by practical need, in this case connecting the cultural and recreational nucleus of Navy Pier with downtown transportation nodes. As it skirts and energizes the newly developed Riverwalk, its design brings a quiet sense of unity and animation to Chicago’s populated urban core.

David Marks, director at Marks Barfield Architects, said: “The Chicago Skyline could do for Chicago what the London Eye has done for London, and become a very identifiable landmark within the city, driving tourism and prosperity. Gently fitting in and standing out at the same time, it will allow local people and visitors alike to appreciate the city and its world-class architecture from a completely new perspective, stimulating Chicago's tourism industry. Its design touches the ground lightly and with an environmentally sensitive and delicate presence - like jewels in a necklace - energizing the city's Riverwalk, and attracting the eyes of the world.”

Steven Davis, Partner at Davis Brody Bond LLP, said: “The Skyline, as a concept, originated during the Navy Pier Competition in 2010. I realized that without creating an innovative mode of transport, directly connecting the Loop with Navy Pier, we would leave a trove of potential visitors untapped. The Skyline is the embodiment of that idea. And what an exciting proposal it is!"

This year-round attraction will operate into the evening hours, offering a unique experience and magnificent views. The Skyline’s route will run from Navy Pier soaring over the great Chicago River and fly over the Riverwalk taking visitors downtown.

The team behind the Chicago Skyline comes with the benefit of the experience of the lessons learnt from the London Eye. The passenger-carrying pods, ride and drive systems will be manufactured by Leitner-Poma, who built the London Eye capsules. The engineering design has been developed with Jacobs, who are the London Eye’s principle engineers.


Nick Myall

News Editor

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