Northerly Island Plan Receives Waterfront Center Honor Award

Northerly Island Plan Receives Waterfront Center Honor Award

SmithGroup, one of the nation's largest architecture, engineering and planning firms, along with Studio Gang Architects have received a 2014 Plan Honor Award from The Waterfront Center for their development of the Northerly Island Framework Plan. The plan represents the firms' close collaboration with the Chicago Park District.

The Northerly Island Framework Plan is an ambitious vision for Chicago’s world famous lakefront. The plan transforms the 91-acre island, a former airport adjacent to the city's Museum Campus, into a unique urban eco-park on Lake Michigan. Visitors will enjoy a performance amphitheater, harbor walk and events pavilion on the northern half of the island, while the southern half will feature restored native landscapes of prairie, woodland, marsh and savanna, along with a reef-protected lagoon. Construction of the park’s southern ecosystems is currently underway.

“Northerly Island’s bold design will transform the Lake Michigan waterfront into a landmark destination for nature in the city,” said Deb Mitchell, FASLA, LEED AP, leader of SmithGroup’s Community practice. “It exemplifies how ecological sustainability and restoration can serve as the springboard for an urban recreational space.”

This is the second major international award that Northerly Island has received in the past two years. The project was the recipient of an Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) Award in 2013.

The Excellence on the Waterfront Awards Program was established in 1987 to recognize top quality waterfront design and development work from around the world. Awards are given for plans, built projects and student work by a jury of interdisciplinary professionals. The Center also recognizes citizen efforts through the Clearwater Award, named for the nonprofit group working to clean up New York’s Hudson River. The awards for 2014 were presented on November 7 during The Center’s 32nd annual conference, held at the American Institute of Architects’ headquarters in Washington, DC. Nine total awards were presented to projects from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Canada, as well as New York, Philadelphia, Detroit and Yuma.

The Waterfront Center ( is a non-profit educational organization that promotes urban waterfronts as vital sources of community enhancement and enrichment, and assists waterfront communities in making the wisest long-term use of their waterfront resources. Founded in 1981, The Center sponsors workshops, its annual conference, publications and other advisory services to increase understanding of how waterfronts contribute to economic, social, recreational and aesthetic vitality.

SmithGroup’s national waterfront portfolio encompasses expertise in waterfront planning, harbor and port engineering, coastal protection design and shoreline ecological restoration for waterfront communities throughout the United States. Noteworthy projects include the Detroit East RiverWalk, Detroit; Northerly Island Framework Plan, Chicago; Fort Myers Riverfront Redevelopment, Fort Myers, Florida and Fisherman’s Cove Port and Harbor in Bellingham, Washington.

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