Michigan Ave. Re-Visioning

In collaboration with the Magnificent Mile Association, LJC created a new vision for Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue retail corridor. Mag Mile is a premier commercial district with retail shopping, historic landmarks, restaurants, and hotels.

The plan focused on reimagining the Magnificent Mile from a commercial district to a mixed-use entertainment district. Current trends of declining in-person retail, tourism, and conflicting stakeholder interest posed challenges for the district. The new vision centers Mag Mile as a vibrant, safe, and interactive experience for Chicago residents and tourists.  

LJC facilitated stakeholder meetings, performed a district market data assessment, and ensured this vision was relevant, data-focused, and anticipated future and commercial trends.

The new vision features a flexible streetscape accommodating the ever-changing retail and entertainment landscape. The plan proposes pop-up shops and activities, interactive technologies, and programmed events. The plan also includes increasing updated safety plans to ensure a secure and thriving environment.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and Chicago Department of Transportation have collaborated to enhance DuSable Lake Shore Drive (LSD). The technical reports include five distinct studies of which we have incorporated and developed the option that is more inclined towards public transportation with dedicated bus lanes on LSD. The top priority is to ensure pedestrian access to Oak St beach from Michigan Ave, which is achieved through a flyover bridge above the fast paced DuSable Lake Shore Drive. The solution includes dedicated bike lanes and walking paths on the Lake Shore Trail. The vibrant beach becomes a venue to conduct events like air and water show, national volleyball tournaments and music concerts. 

The Michigan Avenue Bridge improvement include a more robust guardrail system to ensure the safety of pedestrians crossing over the water. Additionally, portions of the pedestrian walkway cantilever out, giving people the feeling of floating over the water. As part of the riverfront improvement plan, more efficient access from the Michigan Avenue to the riverfront is achieved through planted stairs adjacent to the Apple store that leads down to the river’s edge. The district may also allow for non-taxi boat docking at Michigan Avenue and create a river-walk on the north side that connects to other plazas and landmarks. Re alignment of the lay-by lane along the activated plaza makes it easier for pedestrians to cross the Michigan Avenue. 

To improve the safety and accessibility of the avenue, the plan proposes a combined and dedicated lane for bus and EV’s. The plan includes wider sidewalks, with zones that include cafe along the storefront, a pedestrian through zone and street furnishing zone. A new and visually activated paver system makes the sidewalk feel more dynamic. The median along the one mile corridor is permeable with trees and seating areas to protect pedestrians and create a more inviting atmosphere. 

The redesigned park is designed around foot traffic and features the Historic Water Tower in the center. The park includes various islands with amenities such as a tranquil body of water and tiered seating for events. Additionally, there is a grove of trees with sculptures and low-height plantings for visibility of store front on East Tower Court Streer from Michigan Avenue. The park also has separate islands for food trucks to serve visitors and sitting and relaxing under the trees. A former lane for vehicles has been re-purposed into a spacious 10-foot-wide sidewalk, which is a significant improvement from its previous 3-foot width. 

CLIENT

The Magnificent Mile® Association

LOCATION

Chicago, IL

SIZE

1 Mile Corridor

SERVICES

  • Landscape Architecture
  • Urban Planning + Design