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Urban Waterfronts 26 Conference 2008 

The 26th annual international conference on waterfront planning, development and culture will be held at the historic Drake Hotel on the Magnificent Mile.  Urban Waterfronts 26 November 20 - 22, 2008, Chicago, Illinois, with Pre-Conference Workshop, November 19-20, 2008 Check for updates: Fees and Registration will be posted.


Registration Form

Sponsorship and Advertising Opportunities

Urban Waterfronts 26 Supporters as of July 22, 2008


 Conference Headquarters

You will be in for a real treat staying at the historic and beautiful Drake Hotel. Step back in time and enjoy the spectacular public areas including the popular Palm Court Lounge where you can take tea or sip a cocktail in a relaxed and gracious atmosphere. Many of the rooms have lakefront views and you will be footsteps away from the Magnificent Mile (Google the Drake Hotel and take a look for yourself). On Saturday, November 22, the Christmas lights will be turned on along Michigan Avenue   - an added treat for those staying over.

Special Hotel Rates at the Drake  Hotel

 The SPECIAL conference room rate is  $209.00. Rates subject to current city tax. PLEASE MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS DIRECTLY with the Drake Hotel at 1-800-55-DRAKE. or e-mail to You must identify yourself as eligible for the group rate of The Waterfront Center Conference. Cut-off date for reservations at the Waterfront Center Conference rate is OCTOBER 28, 2008. After October 28, reservations will be accepted on the basis of availability at the prevailing rate.


Urban Waterfronts 26: Countless Opportunities
The Drake Hotel, Chicago, Illinois
November 20-22, 2008
Pre-Conference Workshop Showcasing Chicago
“Chicago: A Tale of Two Waterfronts”
November 19-20, 2008 (Additional Registration Required)

Each panel will feature three speakers and a moderator. 

All Urban Waterfronts 26 conference sessions held at the Drake Hotel.

Thursday, November 20

6:00 p.m. Urban Waterfronts 26 Registration and Exhibitors’ Welcome Reception

7:30 p.m. Get-Acquainted Dinner (optional event, additional fee)
Join fellow attendees at Flatwater (321 N. Clark Street – River Level)
A bus will take you to this riverside restaurant where we have a private room with a river view and surrounding architecture. You will have a four-course meal with wine. Tax, gratuities and transportation included.

Friday, November 21 

7:30 a.m. Registration and continental breakfast

8:30 a.m. Welcome, Water Ceremony
The Water Ceremony has become a conference tradition. Individuals who have been asked to bring a small bottle of water from the rivers, lakes or bays that touch their cities pour the water into a bowl to symbolize the waterfront community’s collective commitment to the health of the world’s waters as well as to sound waterfront planning and development practice. If you would like to join in the ceremony, please contact the Center or just bring your contribution. 

9:00 a.m. Opening Plenary: TBA

9:45 a.m. Coffee Break

10:15 a.m. – 12:15p.m. CONCURRENT MORNING SESSIONS

Panel A-1: Project Updates – From Vision to Reality
What began as someone’s dream, eventually – with lots of hard work – becomes a reality.
This panel will give insights into the many steps taken in 20 or more years, including changes of leadership, evolving missions, accomplishments as well as occasional missteps along the way. Features two pioneering river improvement organizations.
Margaret Frisbee, executive director, Friends of the Chicago River, Chicago, Illinois
Linda Cox, executive director, Bronx River Alliance, The Bronx, New York

Panel B-1: Bridges as Signatures 
Whether the iconic symbols of their respective cities or not bridges play a critical transportation role on waterfronts. When they are beautifully designed as well as being simply utilitarian, the structures help define their waterfront. The panel will explore not only the aesthetics but also some of the practicalities involved in bridge design and maintenance. 
Thomas Powers, deputy commissioner, Department of Transportation, Bridges and Transit, Chicago, Illinois
Ken Philmus, vice president, DMJM Harris, Iselin, New Jersey

Panel C-1: Sea Level Rising – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?
We come back to this subject by popular demand. Waterfront communities need to learn as much as possible about this timely and sometimes controversial topic. How to be prepared, what to be prepared for and in what time frame will be discussed. 
The Honorable Gerald Blessey, Gerald Blessey Law Firm, P.A., Biloxi, Misssissippi

Shirt Sleeve Session 1: Update on the Public Trust Doctrine
Public access to and along waterfronts continues to be one of the most important issues facing cities and town everywhere. Will feature the latest word on the public trust doctrine that can be a key tool for planners and decision makers. Come share your experiences and learn from each other at this informal roundtable.

Speaker and facilitator: Karen Perry, Robinson & Cole, Hartford, Connecticut


Panel A-2: Waterfront Transformations
The waterfront phenomenon continues apace around the world, including rejuvenated brownfields and reclaimed abandoned sites. These transformations involve planning and decisions, leadership, years of hard work, partnerships of all kinds, and myriad funding sources. Learn from presenters how their towns did it and what they had to overcome. Communities of all sizes can learn from these cases. 
The Honorable Ed Schock, mayor, City of Elgin, Illinois

Panel B-2: Lights, Fountains, Flash and Splash! 
Dramatic, innovative -- sometimes subtle and sustainable -- lighting and fountain features can add that special something to any waterfront project be it a major mixed use undertaking or a small park. Learn some of the latest innovations as well as the practicalities of these installations. 
Nikhil Mitter, designer, WET design, Sun Valley, California
Dick Lanyon, superintendent, Chicago Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Panel C-2: Water Recreation
With the increased and continuing clean-up of our waterways, the opportunity for water recreation and all its pleasures whether boating, swimming, fishing, or just getting your feet wet has expanded greatly over the last several decades. This panel will include discussions on an exciting and dramatic floating pool that was brought into New York’s harbor in 2007 and other ways of how to get people onto and into the water. 
Ann Buttenwieser, executive director, The Neptune Foundation, New York, New York
Jeff Cornelius, program manager, River Action Inc., Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois 

Shirt Sleeve 2: Project Finance

4:00 p.m. Coffee Break

4:30 p.m. Plenary: 22nd Annual Excellence on the Waterfront Honor Awards Ceremony.
Jim August, chief executive officer, The Forks – North Portage Development Corportation, jury chair presiding.

5:45 p.m. Champagne Reception honoring the 2008 Honor Award Winners.

7:30 p.m. The Waterfront Center’s Gala Dinner Honoring the 22nd Excellence on the Waterfront Honor Award Winners. (optional event, additional fee) 
We will enjoy a festive evening in the French Room at the Drake. While we take in a view of the lakefront, we’ll enjoy a multi-course meal and champagne toasts in honor of this year’s award winners. Black tie optional. 

Saturday, November 22 

8:00 a.m. Coffee and continental breakfast


Panel A-3: Preserving our Past for the Future 
Urban waterfronts around the globe are enriched with the patina of historic structures of all kinds. 
To preserve and recycle old buildings not only contributes to the character of a community but is an environmentally wise thing to do. 
Jeffrey Scherer, principal, Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Panel B-3: Environmental Centers 
The importance of environmental education, whether in museum-like settings or outdoor natural experiences, can never be stressed too much. Armed with knowledge of environmental impacts citizens and decision makers alike will make wiser and more environmental sound choices. 
Laura Schoeman, project manger, EcoCenter at Herons’ Head Park, San Francisco, California

Panel C-3: Working Waterfront – Getting the Balance Right
Working waterfront facilities, especially those that require a waterfront location or need deep drafts, often need special protection from the pressures of gentrification. These 
The working waterfront whether the funky fishing fleet or the dramatic cranes of a working port play important roles in the economy and tradition the community where they are located. 
Michael Montgomery, manager, Riverfront Renaissance, Portland, Oregon

Shirt Sleeve Session 3: Charette on a Chicago issue

11:00 a.m. Coffee Break

11:30 a.m. Closing Plenary: TBA

Optional Tours TBA

Our program is organized under three broad themes: Economic Development Issues, Public Policy Questions and Design Considerations offering three simultaneous tracks and a total of nine panels. Within the conference matrix there are sessions planned for those with an interest in “green” issues, historic preservation and water-related matters. Besides the Friday keynote and Saturday finale addresses, the announcement and presentation of the 2008 Excellence on the Waterfront Awards will take place on Friday, November 21 at the hotel. Jim August, Chief Executive Officer of The Forks North Portage, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is this year’s jury chair and will preside.

Optional Extra Events

Pre-Conference Workshop: Showcasing the Chicago’s Waterfront, November 19 –November 20, 2008 (Requires a separate registration and additional fee; open only to Urban Waterfronts 26 attendees) To give attendees the chance for an in-depth understanding of Chicago’s waterfront, the local committee chaired by Cathy Hudzik of the Mayor’s Office and Brad Winick a principal with JJR,LLC working with the Center plans an ambitious and varied program and afternoon tours.

Get-Acquainted and Gala Dinners

Get to know your fellow attendees and renew friendships over one or both of these popular dinners. Price includes multi-course meal with wine, and includes tax and gratuities. Friday night we will fete our 2008 award winners. 

Afternoon Tours

Several interesting tours will be offered on Saturday afternoon, November 22. 

Sponsorship Opportunities

Put your company, firm, organization in front of key decision makers from waterfront cities all across North American and abroad. We offer exhibit space as an integral part of the conference and other opportunities for sponsorship and advertising. Sponsors and supporters are featured in all the promotional materials. Advertisers can take a full or half-page ad in either color or black and white. All supporters are linked to our web site. Call or e-mail the Center.


Contact the Waterfront Center

Telephone 202/337 0356 


Links to Waterfront Expertise


Conference Brochure Urban Waterfronts 25

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