Photo courtesy of Unilock

Using Unilock at Navy Pier: A Kafka Granite Case Study

Kafka Granite has been supplying aggregates to some of the country’s largest remodels and revamps for years. From the Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, NY to the Erin Hills Golf Course in Hartford, WI, a wide range of Kafka Granite products can be found at some of the country’s most popular attractions. Such attractions include the Buckingham Fountain, Yankee Stadium, and Chicago’s Navy Pier. The Navy Pier project was one of Kafka Granite’s crowning achievements. Through hard work, determination, and collaboration with Unilock, Kafka Granite was able to help the city of Chicago restore their historic landmark.

Navy Pier was first opened in 1916 and has seen millions of visitors since. Most recognize Navy Pier by it’s glowing ferris wheel and lively family-friendly entertainment. In 2016, to celebrate the Pier’s 100th birthday the city of Chicago decided to give the beloved destination a makeover. The goal of the project was to preserve the history and integrity of Navy Pier while making it more eco-friendly and ensuring its longevity for future generations. Navy Pier is a massive venue with over 50 acres of stunning lake front property. When city officials began researching ways to revitalize this historic landmark they knew that whatever products they decided to utilize would have to withstand hot Chicago summers, wave barrage from Lake Michigan, and the harsh winters that cover the Midwest every year.

Kafka Granite has a long history of creating green alternatives that can be utilized in a variety of applications. Some of Kafka Granite’s eco-friendly projects include the white roofing materials and decomposed granite mixtures. However, one of the most common ways Kafka Granite can help projects attain a LEED or SITES certification is through the use of their recycled aggregate blends, and the Navy Pier project is a perfect example. Through a partnership with Unilock, Kafka Granite was literally a key ingredient in restoring one of America’s most iconic landmarks and achieving the prestigious SITES Gold Certification through GBCI.

WHEN:

Renovations began in 2013 in order to be complete for Navy Pier’s 100th Anniversary in July 2016. The project was awarded Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES ) Gold Certification in November 2016.

WHERE:

Navy Pier needed to cover the entirety of the 50-acre pier with a high quality, yet aesthetically pleasing, concrete pavers. In the eyes of the design team responsible for the Pier’s redesign, the pavers needed to act as an organizational device that could help inspire the design aspects of the other areas of the Pier’s new design and serve as the fabric that tied the entire redesign together as a whole. The new pavers made in partnership with Unilock and Kafka Granite can be seen on the tree-lined South Dock Promenade, as well as the expansive and newly developed Polk Bros. Park and Fountain.

WHO:

James Corner Field Operations ultimately won the competition that the Navy Pier was holding to choose their next design firm. James Corner Field Operations then decided to partner with Unilock. Unilock is a leading manufacturer of interlocking precast concrete pavers. Unilock knew that they needed to partner with a local, regional aggregate provider to create the pavers that the James Corner Field Operations were looking for, and Kafka Granite was a natural fit.

WHAT:

James Corner Field Operations, the company who won the right to lead the redesign of this historic landmark, needed a paver that could function in a variety of settings. For this project, the paver ultimately chosen needed to work in areas of heavy-duty pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and in areas that were designated as heavy-duty vehicular roadways. Additionally, certain areas needed to be permeable to help direct rainfall away from the storm sewer systems and back into the natural ecosystem. If that weren’t enough, James Corner Field Operations had a few additional qualifications when it came to choosing their winning paver.

  1. The company who provides the paver must be able to provide support for the lifetime of the project
  2. Pavers must meet SITES certification standards
  3. Pavers must be comprised of at least 30% recycled content
  4. Pavers must come from and be manufactured from within the region
  5. Any aggregates used in the pavers must be regionally extracted
  6. Pavers must have a high SRI value

HOW:

The vision of the leading-edge landscape architects at James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) was brought to life in part due to an innovative partnership between Unilock and Kafka Granite. One major goal of the Navy Pier’s redesign was to establish an area that was less commercialized and more focused on uniting green space and people. The first challenge of this project was buried in trying to expand the desired green spaces and improve pedestrian access while concurrently improving stormwater management and using recycled materials in an effort to have the project SITES certified. Due to the Pier’s proximity to lake Michigan, all care and consideration had to be put forth into the design and development of the runoff system for the Pier’s vast 50-acre surface area.

Kafka Granite and Unilock responded to the call and rose to the challenge of creating this new urban oasis landscape while remaining environmentally conscious by creating a one-of-a-kind Navy Pier collaboration. As the nation’s premier manufacturer of concrete interlocking pavers, Unilock was an obvious partner when it came to creating a gorgeous surface for the improved landmark. In order to meet the rigorous specifications JCFO established for materials to be used, Unilock teamed with Kafka Granite to create a solution that would check all the boxes mentioned above.

Kafka Granite’s recycled copper slag was an imperative part of the Navy Pier redesign puzzle. With Kafka providing recycled crushed aggregate to Unilock, specifications were precisely met while environmental needs were surpassed. Not only was a portion of the pavers permeable, which will aid in stormwater management, but their clever incorporation of recycled materials made this project’s SITES Gold certification possible. In total, 30% of the materials used for the entirety of the redesign were made from recycled content.

Kafka Granite has been incorporating sustainable processes and products into the aggregate industry for years. From its state-of-the-art crushing facility to its use of recycled porcelain, kiln slag, copper slag, firebrick, glass, mirror, and more, Kafka Granite is a company that understands the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling. By using recycled copper slag that would have otherwise found its way into a landfill, Kafka made it possible for Navy Pier, and various other projects, to achieve highly a sought after SITES certifications. Not only will the Navy Pier’s new design have a positive effect on the city of Chicago, but the gold certification acquired using Kafka Granite recycled aggregates rendered the redesign to be the first project to earn such a pristine level of eco-friendliness under SITES v2 requirements. Kafka Granite looks forward to helping many more companies and project become eco-friendly and be awarded green certifications in the years to come.

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