Navy Pier Centennial Wheel

As part of Navy Pier’s massive Centennial Vision redevelopment project, McHugh constructed and installed the new Ferris wheel which, at 196 feet high, is almost 50 feet larger than the old wheel constructed in 1995. Designed and manufactured by Dutch Wheels in the Netherlands, the state-of-the-art DW60 model is the first and only one of its kind in the country. Named the Centennial Wheel to commemorate Navy Pier’s 100th anniversary, it features 42 new gondolas that hold up to 8 passengers each. Amenities in the gondolas include padded seats, interactive media screens, speakers, and a climate control system with Low-e safety glass to ensure that passengers ride in comfort.

The project posed some unique challenges for McHugh including an extremely compact and restricted construction site; a limited load capacity on the Pier that necessitated a specific crane sequence to ensure the structures below were protected; high winds, extreme cold, and an uncharacteristically wet spring; not to mention that the popular tourist attraction remained open to the public during construction so crews had to minimize any impact to operations, employees, and visitors.

Centennial Wheel By The Numbers

  • 525 Tons – Weight of the Centennial Wheel, twice that of the former Ferris wheel
  • 196 Feet – Height of the Wheel
  • 120 Feet – Length of each of the six legs of the Wheel
  • 95 Feet – Length of each of the 21 spokes of the Wheel
  • 500 – Cubic yards of concrete used
  • 50 – Tons of steel used, not including the Wheel
  • 333,000 Pounds – Combined weight of the Wheel’s six main support columns and the axle
  • 22,000 Pounds – Weight of each television screen on either side of the center axle
  • 48,000 Pounds – Weight of the center axle, the heaviest crane load installed on the Wheel
  • 150 Feet – Depth of 8 micorpiles installed below the Pier park to ground Wheel
  • 500+ – Number of McHugh employees and subcontractors responsible for construction
  • 50+ – Number of Chicagoland subcontractors engaged by McHugh for the project
  • 25,000+ – Total build hours
  • $26.5 million – Total cost of Wheel construction
  • 5 – Number of cranes used to assemble the Wheel
  • 1.2 Million Pounds – Total lifting capacity of cranes used to assemble the Wheel

ASCE – 2016 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement $10M-$25m