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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

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Mapping the historic dunes hidden beneath the surface of Chicago.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

A few years ago, Mary Pat McGuire, ASLA, became fascinated by the South Side of Chicago—or rather, with what was beneath it. She was flying back to the East Coast often, leaving from Midway Airport, and she started to notice “really interesting patterns along the coastline that looked like stripes, ridges along the shore. They were some kind of remnant,” she says, describing the landscape south of the city. “I just started to wonder, ‘What’s really going on here? What was this place?’”

McGuire, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was already familiar with the South Side’s more recent history of white flight, shuttered industry, and disinvestment. Now, she became interested in the area’s geologic history, and how it might be put to work. The landforms she spied from the air prompted McGuire to look at early soil maps made by the U.S. Geological Survey. What she found were (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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31st Street Harbor in Chicago, by Site Design Group and AECOM. Image courtesy of Rose Yuen Photography.

The Obama Foundation on January 30 announced the selection of three landscape architecture firms to work on the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side of Chicago—a nationally renowned firm, a regional Chicago powerhouse headed by a native South Sider, and a lesser-known firm that has worked on previous presidential library landscapes.

The New York-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the 2016 ASLA Landscape Architecture Firm Award recipient and designer of the landscape of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, will lead the group. Chicago’s Site Design Group joins the team, offering extensive experience with the Chicago Park District, which, controversially, turned over the presidential library’s site to the city so that it could be transferred to the Obama Foundation. Finally, Living Habitats, also based in Chicago, rounds out the team, having designed the green roof landscape of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Arkansas. These three firms will work with Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Interactive Design Architects on a narrow slice of land at the western edge of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s Jackson Park, the site of the 1893 World’s Fair, next to Lake Michigan. Site Design Group is a (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

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High-curbed planters break up the flow of traffic on Argyle Street. Photo by Zach Mortice.

Argyle Street, on Chicago’s Far North Side, is a sort of small-town main street in the big city. It’s the hub of Chicago’s Southeast Asian community, which has built one of the city’s most welcoming and intimate ethnic enclaves. Vietnamese grocery stores, exuberant murals, gift shops, and community nonprofits abound; pho soup restaurants make the entire street smell like lemongrass. It’s also the first (more…)

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BY CAROL BECKER

Hoerr Schaudt's Michigan Avenue plantings in Chicago return the investment near and far.

Hoerr Schaudt’s Michigan Avenue plantings in Chicago return the investment near and far.

From the September 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

You might be in Xanadu, having lunch in an outdoor café on Michigan Avenue. You are steps from noisy traffic, but flower baskets surround every café, parkways are lush with flower beds, and every available space along the sidewalk, both public and private, is given over to gardens, urns full of flowers, statuary, and well-kept trees. A garden grows in the middle of the six-lane avenue. Twenty-five years ago, Chicago’s main downtown thoroughfare was little different from many others—you shopped or ate or saw sites or worked and lived along city streets with young trees under tree grates, with not much else that was living to separate people from constant high-speed traffic and the railroad yards.

Today it’s all different, owing to the Michigan Avenue Streetscape project, recipient of the 2016 ASLA Landmark Award, given to works of landscape architecture between 15 and 50 years old that have kept their design integrity and contribute to the public realm. The project has proved its worth for tourism, real estate, retail shopping, dining, and quality of life for the millions of people who find themselves on the avenue every year. Michigan Avenue has become a destination in itself. The Streetscape (which includes only the median plantings and not the many other streetside plantings that have followed) guides (more…)

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

In Chicago, an urban farm muscles in on an award-winning landscape.

In Chicago, an urban farm muscles in on an award-winning landscape.

From the May 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Not long after the landscape went in, the farm began encroaching. The black-eyed Susans were replaced by herbs. The shining sumac and Indiangrass were dug up to make way for chickens. And a copse of Skyrocket oaks, which screened the residential building’s parking lot from a traffic-choked section of Chicago’s Ogden Avenue, was next on the chopping block.

Mimi McKay, ASLA, the landscape architect for the project, known as Harvest Commons, got a call from Dave Snyder, the staff gardener. “Dave said that he was gonna build a chicken run and that he was gonna remove the oak trees to do it, and I had an absolute cow,” McKay recalls. “I said, ‘You absolutely cannot remove them—and you don’t have to remove them.’”

McKay, the principal at McKay Landscape Architects in Chicago, saved the oaks, but other landscape elements—elements that played a significant role in (more…)

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A new film focuses on Jens Jensen.

From the April 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Jens Jensen didn’t care much for the White City. According to the new documentary Jens Jensen: The Living Green, he, along with the architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, rejected the European influence of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and embraced the prairie and its ecology as the American landscape idiom. Today, many of his pioneering ideas about the use of native plants and landscape conservation have new currency. Jensen, who was born in Denmark but is closely associated with Chicago’s urban parks and midwestern landscape preservation, will be the subject of an Earth Day observance at the New York Botanical Garden. A screening of the documentary will be followed by a panel discussion with Darrel Morrison, FASLA; Robert Grese, ASLA; the filmmaker Carey Lundin; and Jensen’s great-granddaughter, Jensen Wheeler Wolfe.

Jens Jensen: The Living Green Film Screening and Panel Discussion at the National Building Museum, April 14, 2016, 7:00–8:30 p.m.

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Credit: Iain Thompson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Find the LAM staff out and about in March and April:

March 23–26

2016 Conference of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, Salt Lake City

April 26–28

Lightfair International, San Diego

You can also find Landscape Architecture Magazine this spring at the following shows:

April 18–20

Coverings, Chicago

April 26–28

Lightfair International, San Diego

And as always, at more than 200 Barnes & Noble stores nationwide.

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