Decked With Kebony, New Riverwalk Opens Along Chicago River

A new quarter-mile public pathway recently opened along the Chicago River as part of phase one of the Southbank development currently under construction.

Designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, the 2.5-acre park and riverwalk is the latest addition to the seven-acre multi-phase development. The site features trees, shrubs, and grasses selected for their beauty, resilience, and low maintenance requirements. And it offers a waterfront viewing platform, a kayak launch, and the potential for a future water taxi stop.

Stretching between Harrison Street and the River City Apartments along the river’s south branch, the riverwalk itself is decked with 9,000 square feet of Kebony modified wood, which was chosen specifically for its weather-resistant qualities.

“We were searching for new materials that are resilient to the midwest climate,” Hoerr Schaudt senior associate said. “What sparked my interest is that it doesn’t need to be finished and has been tested in some brutal climates in Scandinavia. Other projects in harsh atmospheres set the precedent.”

A stone amphitheater at the adjacent Southbank park will host small public events and concerts, and although privately funded and maintained, these open space amenities are available to the public.

The Southbank riverwalk is a preview of what a revitalized south branch of the Chicago River could look like in the future. The new segment will be eventually joined by another pathway crossing in front of the Riverline development to the immediate south. Just beyond that, a 100-foot-wide public riverwalk is planned at the sprawling mixed-use megadevelopment known as The 78.

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