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The north entrance to the 111 E Wacker parking garage is closed for repair. Please use the south entrance at 233 E South Water Street.

The Wild Mile is one-of-a-kind: a floating eco-park in the heart of the city. Visit this steadily growing wonder on the North Branch of the Chicago River for a conversation, walking tour and optional kayak adventure with co-creators Urban Rivers and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).

August 2, 2024
5:00 pm
Free (RSVP required)
905 W. Eastman Street, Chicago, IL 60642


Backed by the City of Chicago as part of a larger effort to redefine and rehabilitate this channelized section of the river, a team of experts and community partners devised the Wild Mile as proof-of-concept in how industrial waterways can be reborn as wildlife sanctuaries connecting city dwellers to nature. In 2022, the first 400 feet of what will ultimately be an intricate mile-long network of floating boardwalks and wetlands debuted along the North Branch Canal behind the REI store at Kingsbury and Eastman. And this spring an extension is underway that will double the park’s length.

Urban Rivers co-founder and Executive Director Nick Wesley and SOM Partner Doug Voigt will share fascinating details of the design, planning and lengthy negotiations behind this undertaking and give tours of the new landscape and habitat. Come discover the thriving ecosystem that has quickly taken hold above and below the water’s surface!

This program is part of our Loop as Lab: Reshaping Downtowns exhibition series exploring key themes for the future of cities.

Due to space limitations, this event is capped at 40 registrants. Those interested in the kayak tour should plan for an extra hour and it is first come first served with a maximum capacity of 8 participants. This option will be available upon checkout.


Nick Wesley

Nick Wesley is co-founder and Executive Director of Urban Rivers. Nick earned his BBA in Entrepreneurship from Wilkes University. He previously worked on aeroponic systems and spearheaded mushroom plant research at The Plant on Chicago’s South Side by building a commercial pasteurizing system for producing mushrooms. Nick spearheaded the design and construction of the Wild Mile as well as worked with various agencies to push forward the vision of a wildlife-first floating eco park. Nick is an avid tinkerer and is always building something new.

Doug Voigt

Since joining SOM in 1995, Doug Voigt has focused on complex urban plans and architectural projects. Through his leadership as Urban Planning and Design Partner, he is interested in the capacity of design to build community and connect people to one another. Voigt’s work is distinguished by a passionate appreciation for each project’s unique challenges and the need for a comprehensive and innovative response. Over the last two decades, he has been able to unite disparate stakeholders under a cohesive vision, transforming abstract ideas into physical realities.

Doug has brought his expertise to large scale, complex and neighborhood projects for public and private sectors for more than two decades. He draws on TOD experience in Chicago, nationally and internationally. He is experienced in leading large-scale and complex projects, and has expertise in organizing all work-streams into a single project vision and direction.