The Big Shift: Chicagoisms

Exhibition: Chicagoisms
Venue: The Art Institute of Chicago
Organizers: Alexander Eisenschmidt and Jonathan Mekinda, Art Institute of Chicago
Date: Spring 2014 - Fall 2014

The Big Shift imagines a scenario wherein Chicago embraces the lakefront’s latent potential by proposing a dramatic, yet conceptually simple infrastructural transformation.

By shifting the 1.5 mile stretch of LSD running along Grant Park eastward, the city could create upwards of 225 acres of new lakefront real estate—importantly, west of LSD—that would generate an enormous, long-term revenue stream through land leases and property taxes, despite the significant upfront infrastructural costs of the endeavor.

The ‘shift’ would allow for the reconfiguration of LSD—changing its alignment and partially sinking or bridging portions of it in order to reduce its adverse impact on pedestrian and bike access to the lakefront, as well as its auditory and emission impacts on the city.

More significantly, the project would enhance two of Chicago’s most beloved public spaces. A fourth street wall would frame the east side of Grant Park, creating a kind of ‘Central Park’ condition, while stately, tree-lined boulevards would connect from the west side of Grant Park across the new development area and LSD to a new 145-acre public waterfront.

This newly configured waterfront would include softly rolling topography, beaches, spaces of prospect and refuge, as well as generous planting, pedestrian circulation and furnishing. The proposal would more than triple the size of the current lakefront adjacent to Grant Park, providing the recreational amenities now missing from the area, but which animate other areas of Chicago’s iconic lakefront.

Simply put, the Big Shift imagines a scenario where a public infrastructural renovation is leveraged to create urgently needed municipal revenue sources while enhancing and expanding Chicago’s most important public spaces and civic assets.

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