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Posts Tagged ‘McCormick Place’

LETHAL GLASS LANDSCAPES

BY JEFF LINK

A proposed building and landscape ordinance could shape the future of bird-friendly design in Chicago.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On a mild Friday in early May, Ted Wolff took a personal day and drove to the Ballard Nature Center in Altamont, Illinois, to catch a glimpse of Lewis’s woodpecker, a nearly foot-long, pink- and white-breasted bird native to the western United States. Along with two other Chicago birders, Wolff, the garrulous, white-bearded principal of Wolff Landscape Architecture, was on a “twitch,” an English expression for pursuing a bird in a geographic area where it is rarely seen.

Early that morning, an Illinois Rare Bird Alert reported that the woodpecker—named after the explorer Meriwether Lewis, who first saw the bird on his expedition with William Clark—had been seen at the nature center. It was reason enough for Wolff to clear his docket. Before long, the three birders were driving south to be among the first people to see the bird in Illinois, outside its historic range.

When they entered the nature center’s indoor viewing area, the woodpecker was already perched on a platform feeder—a “walk-up,” in birder’s parlance—eating shelled peanuts in front of a one-way reflective plate glass window. They watched it peck at the platform for several minutes, then fly to a hackberry with a peanut wedged in its bill, pausing before circling back to the feeder.

“At some point, though,” Wolff told me later in his office on the sixth floor of the Old Republic Building on North Michigan Avenue, “it flies over toward the feeder and overshoots and flies into the window. I think it sees its own reflection and it sort of pulls up and touches the window lightly and is able to fly off.”

Many birds are not so lucky. Ornithologists estimate that up to a billion birds, often migratory birds listed as species of conservation concern, die in building collisions in the United States annually—collisions that Wolff says are largely preventable, and deaths that warrant a stronger response from landscape architects as advocates for bird-friendly design. (more…)

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BY LAUREN MANDEL, ASSOCIATE ASLA

Ryerson University's green roof transformation.

Ryerson University’s green roof transformation.

From the August 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In downtown Chicago, the city’s convention center, McCormick Place, dominates the landscape with 27 acres of rooftop. The facility’s West Building has more than three acres of thin, or extensive, green roof, which was installed in 2007 to meet city requirements. In recent years, a lack of maintenance has caused the roof’s Sedum species to decline, which gave employees of SAVOR, the in-house food service provider at McCormick Place, an idea that these highly visible vegetated planes could be used for a more productive purpose. The result is the McCormick Place Rooftop Farm.

Green roof infrastructure has matured to the point that the intended use for some older roofs may no longer be relevant. In Chicago, New York, and Toronto, there are projects to turn some of these roofs into fields of food. In the past decade, cities with progressive stormwater management policies have incentivized or even required green roofs on new construction, creating a veneer of vegetation across many urban skylines. But as with any landscape, the project matures and the needs of the users change.

(more…)

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