Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Avenue’

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 GARY HILDERBRAND, FASLA

Dan Kiley's South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago has seasoned over nearly 50 years into a rugged, magical hawthorn canopy.

Dan Kiley’s South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago has seasoned over nearly 50 years into a rugged, magical hawthorn canopy.

From the October 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

There is nothing quite like sitting beneath the almost fully connective canopy of 50-year-old cockspur hawthorns in Dan Kiley’s South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago in early summer. The 32 trees at the center of the garden, set in a 20-foot grid, reached their natural maximum height long ago. Their wily trunks have thickened and twisted with age; their craggy, wandering branches continued to elongate, eventually overlapping and intertwining, creating a space that has a level of repose perhaps unequaled in a midcentury urban landscape space. Crataegus crus-galli has narrow, waxy, obovate leaves, which are naturally held upright at the tops of the branches, suggesting intolerance for shade; they filter a kaleidoscope of sunlight and shadow onto the warm brown crushed-stone paving below. Reflections from the water surface and gravel color the air. Though generally I find the modernist conceit of describing “rooms” in landscapes inadequate or ill-suited, this canopy explicitly creates a ceiling and produces a dazzling sense of interiority within the garden’s sunken court space. It’s hard to believe you are sitting within 150 feet of Chicago’s main drag.

Michigan Avenue, the historic eastern anchor of Chicago’s exalted grid, attracts hordes of traffic and tourists to its institutions, architectural sites, and parks. There are excellent urban landscapes to see here, including the Lurie Garden, Maggie Daley Park, Grant Park, and the grounds of the Field Museum. None is more tranquil than the South Garden. Peter Schaudt, one of Chicago’s most admired landscape architects, considered it Chicago’s best landscape space. This year, ASLA conferred its Landmark Award to the project, which recognizes works between 15 and 50 years old that retain their design integrity and benefit to the public realm. At about its 50-year mark, the South Garden more than (more…)

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