Making the Case in Chicagoland

Curated by Bradley McCauley

Brad McCauley is the current President of the Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ILASLA) and a Principal and Director of Operations at Chicago-based site design group, ltd. Through a 3-year partnership, ILASLA worked with the Landscape Architecture Foundation to produce case studies of high-performing landscape projects designed by Illinois-based firms. The case studies will be used in ILASLA’s advocacy efforts with city leaders and the state licensing board to show the value of well-designed parks, open spaces, and other sustainable landscapes. Here, Brad highlights key Chicagoland case study projects and their relevance to local issues.

  1. Case Study Brief

    Millennium Park

    Chicago, Illinois

    “This acclaimed park is an excellent example of the evolution of a post-industrial landscape into a well-loved community amenity – one with more than 5 million visitors every year. Located on a former rail yard and parking lot, Millennium Park has contributed significantly to the local economy, spurring extensive residential development nearby, and boosting the traffic throughout the Loop significantly. As one of the most well-known public spaces in Chicago, this park is an excellent example of the power of public space in economic development.”

  2. Case Study Brief

    Palmisano-After

    Palmisano Park / Stearns Quarry

    Chicago, Illinois

    “This 27-acre environmental park, dubbed Mt. Bridgeport, has become a beacon for environmental sustainability within the City of Chicago by converting a formerly decommissioned quarry and landfill into an iconic community park that more than doubles the amount of green space in the neighborhood. Similar in size to Millennium Park, but with 1/50th of the budget, this park shows that the successful collaboration of government agencies, the community, and designers can produce outstanding results.”

  3. Case Study Brief

    Chicago Botanic-After

    Chicago Botanic Garden Lake Shoreline Enhancements

    Glencoe, Illinois

    “Right plant, right place is clearly evidenced in this 6-acre habitat improvement project that demonstrates the three "P's" of sustainability (People, Planet, and Prosperity). The re-imagining of the shoreline has not only allowed hundreds of native plant species to flourish, lowering maintenance costs, it has also created an outdoor classroom where over 10,000 students, both young and old, have participated in outdoor programs.”

  4. Case Study Brief

    Sarah Goode-After

    Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy

    Chicago, Illinois

    “This former brownfield showcases the plethora of sustainable design tools that can be implemented in institutional and educational settings. In particular, the Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy is a model for implementing Midwest native landscapes that serve to improve the ecological health of the site and surroundings, while also educating students, teachers, and the public. As we face several environmental challenges such as the decline of the honeybee, urban landscapes that create habitat for pollinators and other wildlife are essential to the long-term health and well-being of cities like Chicago.”

  5. Case Study Brief

    Gary Comer-Sustainable

    Gary Comer Youth Center

    Chicago, Illinois

    “The Gary Comer Youth Center is an exemplary precedent for helping solve the food desert problem which is plaguing so many urban communities across the nation. The working rooftop garden produces more than 1,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables every year, providing food for 175 children at the center every day. In addition to the urban garden, the center also incorporates extracurricular educational programs to help children gain new skills and pursue college and careers.”

  6. Case Study Brief

    Morton-After

    The Morton Arboretum: Meadow Lake & Permeable Main Parking Lot

    Lisle, Illinois

    “At a time where others were reluctant to embrace best management practices, The Morton Arboretum was leading the way in implementing green infrastructure. Having been installed for over 10 years now, this masterfully crafted addition to the plant campus has educated the more than 850,000 annual visitors on the importance of embracing new technologies and how to successfully integrate them with those proven for centuries.”

  7. Case Study Brief

    Advocate-After

    Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Patient Tower

    Park Ridge, Illinois

    “The patient tower expansion showcases sustainable landscapes that contribute to a healthy, safe, and healing environment in a healthcare setting. A series of gardens and healing rooms integrate sustainable stormwater features and native plants, while also providing both public and private spaces for respite. The response to the new healing gardens has been overwhelmingly positive – with increased calmness and reduced stress noted in a patient survey – serving as a great example of healing landscapes.”

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