Plan underway to transform Chicago's Pedway into tourist attraction

Officials in the city of Chicago are exploring a proposed plan to transform a network of underground tunnels into a tourist attraction, granting a non-profit permission to create more detailed plans for the project.

Running beneath the city’s central business district, the Pedway connects more than 50 buildings and offers a convenient way to navigate downtown Chicago, but has been criticised for being difficult to navigate.

The non-profit Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) has commissioned a study to come up with innovative new ways to improve the Pedway, including simple tasks such as improving signage and access to the pedestrian route, and more detailed plans to turn the space into a tourist attraction in its own right.

Several companies have been involved in the proposed plans, including British consultancy firm BuroHappold Engineering, US architects DavisBrodyBond, London-based Billings Jackson Design and Bristol-based design agency City ID.

Among the plans, a subterranean library – highlighted by an overground sculpture of a giant book – has been touted, as have things such as farmer’s markets, underground galleries and pop-up installations.

Still in the developmental phase, a project budget has not been set for the Pedway project. Improvements will help better connect important downtown locations such as the Thompson Center and City Hall, and could be funded in a number of yet-to-be decided ways. These include a local property tax and funding from the county or federal government.

Individual businesses who own property above certain areas of the Pedway could also make improvements below ground related to their brand – for example the Chicago Cultural Center could create a natural extension to its facility by opening an underground art gallery within the network to match its topside offering.

If the plans are realised the Pedway could go the way of similar projects such as New York’s High Line – a converted disused railway line turned into an overground park – or Sydney’s Goods Line, an urban corridor running from the city’s ultimo neighbourhood to the iconic Darling Harbour.

Chicago  Pedway  Visitor attractions  galleries  chicago  architecture  design  art  culture  Environmental Law and Policy Center  DavisBrodyBond 
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