New lighting for Chicago Riverwalk


Chicago, one of the latest LUCI members, recently uncovered a new lighting for its refurbished Riverwalk, inaugurated in 2016. The initiative, which sought to reclaim the river’s edge for residents, provides a unique outdoor setting for socialisation and relaxation.


The lighting was designed to be playful, welcoming, and interactive – a drastic departure from the stark, security-style lighting of the past.

The project, which had to allow for specific pedestrian zones and a series of underbridge areas, involved challenging conditions. It also had to consider the river’s annual flood cycle, during which the water can swell to nearly two metres above normal. Luminaires needed to be robust, rated for submersible applications, low maintenance, low glare, and well-integrated into the architecture.

The resulting lighting uses warm white (3000 K) linear LED fixtures on walking paths throughout the Riverwalk so people feel comfortable and safe. Illuminated handrails incorporate warm white LED tape lights and pedestrian bridges linking the different areas use linear LED fixtures with opal white lenses. The project is made up of five different themed spaces, or “rooms”: The Marina Plaza, the Cove, the River Theatre, the Water Plaza, and the Jetty.

The Chicago Riverwalk lighting was awarded the 2017 IALD Award of Merit, as well as the 2017 AL Design Award for Outstanding Achievement in Exterior Lighting. It successfully extends the city’s public space and allows people to enjoy the unique setting.

LUCI Chicago Riverwalk Cities & Lighting


Chicago Riverwalk at a glance:

  • Contracting authority: City of Chicago
  • Lighting design and Implementation: Schuler Shook
  • Equipment: Bega, DesignPlan, Hydrel, Kenall, LedLinear, MCI Group, Roscolux Glass, Winona Lighting
  • Implementation: Autumn 2016


An edited version of this article originally appeared in   (Issue #6, December 2017).


For more information on Chicago, see our member pages.


Photo credits: © Christian Phillips Photography






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