Chicago Landscape Architecture

October 24, 2019
Juan Rois

Given its preeminent role in the birth of the skyscraper, Chicago is often called a laboratory of modern architecture. This summer, the city has put on new mantle: It has become a nationally significant testing ground for public space.

Eleven years after the triumph of Millennium Park, with its luminous Bean and raucous Crown Fountain, Chicago has dedicated three major public spaces in rapid succession: The 606, with its 2.7 mile Bloomingdale Trail; the newly extended downtown Riverwalk, with its roomlike outdoor spaces; and Maggie Daley Park, with its colorful climbing walls, ice skating ribbon and children's play areas.

While the trio have experienced growing pains โ€” the Riverwalk was flooded by the sewage-infested Chicago River just days after it opened โ€” they appear to be a hit with the public.

At The 606, strollers, joggers, skateboarders and cyclists stream down a bike and walking trail that used to be an elevated freight line. Boats tie up at the Riverwalk as office workers sip wine, resting their glasses on high-backed teak benches. At Maggie Daley Park, a hive of kids run, climb, slide, holler and laugh as they enjoy colorful, creatively designed play equipment with skyline views that no suburban playground can match.

What's going on here?

It's not just more open space. It's a different kind of open space โ€” more interactive and more richly planted than an ordinary park or the typical American corporate landscape of sod and trees. Michael Van Valkenburgh, the Brooklyn-based landscape architect of The 606 and Maggie Daley Park, has termed that banal, low-maintenance approach "Mow, Blow and Go."

The new pleasure grounds discard the formality of Grant Park, whose Versailles-inspired beauty can be as stiff as a starched collar.

They also differ, to a degree, from the designs of the great 19th-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, whose works include the South Side's Jackson and Washington parks. Olmsted's man-made meadows and meres sought to provide a refuge from the noisy and dirty industrial city. His parks also strove to form an alternative to private parks that required a key (and, one suspects, a sizable bank account) for entry.


Landscaping Tips

Though your home is your castle, there is no necessity to surround it with a moat. Here are 5 tips that will help you to make your landscaping feel more warm, welcoming and cozy.

1. Put some flowers nearby your entrance. Flowers make any area look more welcoming and attractive, so greeting your guests with Petunia, Snapdragon, Lily-of-the-Nile or some other garden flowers is always a great thing to do. What is more, to add some space between your house and the entrance, you can consider adding a little white fence. It will create an illusion that your front yard is bigger than it actually is. What is more, adding fence will create a great space for planting flowers to add some color and coziness.

2. Add rambling vines to make your yard look absolutely lovely. You can not deny that rambling vines always create romantic and even magical atmosphere. So why not to use this tip while decorating your yard?

3. To hide the unattractive driveway, consider adding some color, texture, and height. You can easily do it by adding various sorts of flowers. To start, create an island of green lawn right in the hub of a drive. Then add a couple of low boxwood hedges with flowers toward the back of your island.

4. If you want your yard to blossom and flourish bust still do not have enough time to maintain it, consider planting low-fuss lilies. Such flowers look absolutely gorgeous and come in the variety of rainbow hues, so you can pick the one you love most. What is more, low-fuss lilies do not care about the sort of soil, they love the sun and welcome hot, they do not afraid of drought. In other words, Crinums is an ideal flower for all those who are looking for low-maintenance solutions.

5. The last tip also touches the low-maintenance aspect. To make your life easier, group plantings into beds and islands. This will help you to avoid mowing and trimming around each individual plant, save a lot of time and even money.

Share this Post