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Chicago Riverwalk Seeks Artists for Integrated Public Art

Posted by City of Chicago ; Posted on 
Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Chicago Riverwalk Seeks Artists for Integrated Public Art




The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management (2FM), invites professional artists and artist teams to submit their qualifications for a public art design project in response to sites along Riverwalk East, located on the south bank of the Chicago River, between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. Through the Riverwalk East Public Art Design Project, artists at the height of their field will develop ambitious, innovative design proposals that activate and enhance this beloved natural amenity and recreation area.

Budget:  $10,000 fee to selected artists to develop a proposal

Eligibility:  Professional artists/teams with a demonstrated history of completing ambitious, large-scale, outdoor public art projects together

Deadline: 10/26/18

Review the full RFQ and apply here.

Since 2011, the Chicago River has been transformed into the city’s next recreational park, with vast opportunities for residents and visitors to access and enjoy the river at almost every mile. The Riverwalk has quickly become one of the city’s most popular destinations for art, music, dining and the enjoyment of natural habitats, and continues to offer new and improved ways to enjoy Chicago’s waterfronts and architecture. In August 2018, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to improve the east end of the Chicago Riverwalk. These improvements are part of ongoing efforts to build upon the success of the Riverwalk and further enhance visitors’ experience from Michigan Avenue to Lake Shore Drive. The City will improve older sections of the Riverwalk east of Michigan Avenue to help create even more opportunities for residents and visitors to interact with and enjoy the Chicago River.

Improvements to Riverwalk East include changes to the path to re-orient visitor’s experience with the river; improved landscaping, drainage and paving; outdoor public seating and viewing areas; improved accessibility via a new pedestrian connection at Field Boulevard and a new elevator at Columbus Drive; a children’s play area; a proposed submarine memorial, new vendor signage, storefronts, and public restrooms; a new market west of Michigan Avenue to highlight neighborhood businesses, and new public art.

Through the Riverwalk East Public Art Design Project, artists at the height of their field will develop ambitious, innovative design proposals that activate and enhance this beloved natural amenity and recreation area.

Successful public art proposals will navigate site conditions with a bold and creative vision. They will preserve the integrity of the natural environment, and the accessibility and functionality of infrastructure, recreational and pedestrian areas. Designs will include elements of an appropriate size, scale and orientation to engage viewing from multiple potential vantage points, including the Riverwalk, the river itself, and the street level above.  They will be suitably engineered for their intended environment; only durable and resilient media will be considered, though integrated light- and/or sound-based elements are also of interest in some areas. Successful public art proposals will create a sense of place and contribute to Riverwalk East’s function as an esplanade and destination for city residents and visitors alike.

* All dates are approximate.

  • Deadline for initial submissions:  10/26/18
  • Review of qualifications:  10/29/18 – 11/09/18
  • Committee selects 3-4 finalists:  11/12/18 – 11/16/18
  • Notification of finalists / Thanksgiving week:  11/19/18 – 11/23/18
  • Finalists’ and stakeholders’ site visit / public meeting with community input:  12/03/18 – 12/07/18
  • Finalists’ design development:  12/10/18 – 01/25/19
  • Finalists’ presentations:  01/28/19 – 02/01/19


Following the RFQ application deadline, DCASE will convene a panel of arts professionals to review the applications.  The committee will select 3-4 finalists, who will be commissioned to develop comprehensive public art design proposals responding to multiple sites along Riverwalk East.

Finalists will have an opportunity to tour the site, meet with stakeholders, review existing plans, and receive community input.  Finalists will work in collaboration with architects Muller and Muller (Muller2), 2FM and DCASE staff to develop comprehensive public art plans that respond to both current site conditions and forthcoming developments.  Following the design development phase, finalists will present their design proposals to cultural, city and community stakeholders.

For Riverwalk East concept renderings by design firm Muller2, please see presentation 2FM Chicago Riverwalk – Short-Term Improvements: State Street to Lakeshore Drive, included with the RFQ summary found on the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs web site, at:

Applications should include:

  1. Ten (10) total images of past large-scale public art and infrastructure projects by the artist or the artist team’s lead artist(s).
  2. One (1) video, edited to no more than two (2) minutes in length, may also be submitted but is not required.
  3. Annotated Image List: An annotated image list that includes the title, media, year completed, dimensions, location (if site-specific) project budget (if applicable) timeline, and client or commissioning entity for each corresponding image. If a video is submitted, please include two to three (2-3) sentences to describe its context.
  4. Client/commissioning entity references for at least three (3) large-scale public art projects led by the artist or the team’s lead artist(s). Include name, affiliation, telephone, email and mailing address for each reference.
  5. If applying as an artist team, a list of key team members and their roles/affiliations.
  6. A two- (2) page resume or curriculum vitae (CV). If applying as an artist team, provide one resume or CV for each team member.
  7. A one- (1) page letter of interest stating the artist’s or artist team’s specific interest in Riverwalk East public art opportunities.


Submit ONLY through the CaFE system.

QUESTIONS?  Contact Joanna Goebel, Curator of Public Art, or (312) 744-0079


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