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Beyond Topiary

Chicago’s Merchandise Mart Plaza is Redesigned as a True Riverfront Destination

Following an innovative Social Spaces built environment at the Merchandise Mart’s expansive Urban Boardwalk for NeoCon 2019, a dedicated design team of Gensler, Confluence, Olin and Haworth once again revitalized the famed riverfront, this time with a permanent installation.

The newly redesigned plaza celebrates the river as a second shoreline, anchoring Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, the largest commercial building in the world, with a relaxed, multi-use park outfitted with versatile, design-driven luxury outdoor furniture. To create welcoming environments, the group imagined the area as rooms, each with a different vision and purpose from stylish dining and lounging to pop-up workspaces.

Through unparalleled views of the city’s architecture and ample recreational opportunities for kayaking and fishing as well as outdoor performances, the waterfront offers a cultural connection for residents and visitors alike. The thoughtful balance of greenery and openly spaced seating areas positions the boardwalk as a unique retreat that simultaneously pays tribute to Chicago’s lively Riverwalk experience.

Click here to see the JANUS et Cie furnishings used in this installation.
Videography by Ten12 Productions, courtesy of Haworth.

The team that worked on this installation includes:

Eric Gannon
Benjy Ward
Nolan Loh
Stephen Miller
Todd Heiser
Jessica Gracey

Ted Wolff, PLA, Senior Principal
Craig A. Soncrant, PLA, ASLA, SCUP, Principal
Kevin Stewart, PLA, ASLA, Senior Project Manager
Jie Dai, ASLA, Landscape Designer

Susan Weiler and Ryan Buckley


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