Urban Nature

Contemporary Urban Waterscapes
designing public spaces in concert with nature

introduction background cases lessons
  potsdamer platz  
    lurie garden  
    canal park  

lurie garden, millennium park, chicago
Gustafson, Guthrie, Nichol (lead design)

The Lurie Garden is Gustafson Guthrie Nichol's 3 acre contribution to the 24.5 acre, $475 million Millennium Park in Chicago. Through its graceful and esoteric design, the Lurie Garden pays homage to the city's motto, Urbs in Horto, or City in a Garden, by referencing the city's transformation from a flat and marshy landscape to a vertical city of agglomeration. According to Kathryn Gustafson, "The Lurie Garden is a design inspired by Chicago's distinct natural and cultural history." (Millennium Park).

design concept
The park's design consists of four principal elements: the Shoulder Hedge, the Light Plate, the Dark Plate and the Seam Boardwalk.

The Shoulder Hedge frames the garden on the northern and western sides with a 14-foot metal framework, or Armature, that shapes several plants into a monumental hedge and provides people a sense of entering a secret garden. (Freeman). It also physically represents Carl Sandburg's depiction of Chicago as the "City of Big Shoulders."

Beyond the Shoulder Hedge are the Light and Dark Plates that represent Chicago's built landscape of the past and the future. The Dark Plate "expresses the early landscape history of the site... wild shoreline and river delta" through lush and darkly toned vegetation (Millennium Park). In contrast, the Light Plate's bright and bold tones render the clean, controlled landscape of the future.

The Seam Boardwalk is the diagonal division between the two plates and marks the two eras of Chicago's landscape development. It is oriented to express the angle of a historic seawall remaining beneath the site that once held back the marshy Lake Michigan shoreline from the city. A wooden boardwalk traces this diagonal and floats over stepped pools that expose a 5-foot wide seam of water. The sound of water lapping against this seam is a subtle reminder of the nearby Great Lake. While the boardwalk is for casual strolling, the steps along the water provide places for resting and experiencing the water in an intimate and relaxing atmosphere (Millennium Park).

part of a green roof system
The site that is now occupied by Millennium Park was controlled for almost 150 years by the Illinois Central Railroad. The entire park is built on a structural deck supported by two reinforced concrete cast-in-place garages and steel structures that span over the remaining railroad tracks. Green Roofs for Healthy Cities considers Millennium Park to be perhaps the largest green roof project in the world. The structural deck supports four-feet of soil and is waterproofed with a rubberized membrane system. Scores of trees, shrubs, groundcovers, perennials, annuals and growing medium absorb and filter storm water, clean the air, and reduce the urban heat island (GRHC).










top: from www.landliving.com
middle: photograph by Francisca Rojas
bottom: from www.landliving.com