Chicago Wants to Light up 'Iconic Metropolis' for Tourists

June 04--The city of Chicago has put out a request for proposals for a "city-wide lighting framework plan," the latest step in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's idea to put lights on various structures as a way to lure tourists by highlighting Chicago as "an iconic metropolis."

Bidders should particularly consider ways to light up the 180 bridges in the city over the Chicago River, the riverwalk, the CTA's elevated train system and Lower Wacker Drive, according to the documents released this week by the Department of Procurement.

The bid document also urge respondents to come with plans to light up "iconic structures," and mentions Willis Tower, Aqua Tower, the modern wing addition at the Art Institute and the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park as examples of notable Chicago architecture.

"The search for a Design Team is an important part of the Mayor's initiatives for the City and Choose Chicago," the request for proposal states. "The goal of these initiatives is to highlight the City as an iconic metropolis and as a world-class destination for national and international tourists."

Chicago's bid points out that in six other world cities that lots of tourists visit -- London, Barcelona, Madrid, Edinburgh, Prague and Berlin -- there are clear paths connecting areas where tourists go delineated by lights.

Here, by contrast, there are "a series of approximately seven disconnected clusters": Navy Pier, the John Hancock building, Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River, Millennium Park, Willis Tower, Buckingham Fountain and the museum campus.

"Chicago currently offers many unique tourist experiences. The (lighting framework plan) will create connections between these elements that encourage tourists to explore the city's neighborhoods -- to help them in navigating and extending their tourist experience -- establishing Chicago as a place to spend a few days, not just a few hours," the bid documents read.

Responses are due by July 7.

Jebyrne@tribune.com

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