The breezy rooftop of our client’s Lincoln Park home, with its views to the vibrant downtown Chicago skyline, was a wonderful setting for considering the primary natural elements we love to work with: earth, water, fire and wind. The “four elements” cited in literature and spiritual writings through the ages.

The rooftop’s modest size – about 800 square feet – meant we had to be economical in our planning. At one end we combined a fire element with a custom-made water feature to save room, and added more water in two small “streambeds” traversed by bridges made of ipê. A hydrotherapy spa and outdoor shower hold down the opposite side of the rooftop. In the middle sits an outdoor kitchen from DCS and our own, CSG-created poured concrete countertop and bar. Planter boxes of varying sizes hold river birch, native shrubs and a wide range of colorful annuals; all are drip-irrigated. Low-voltage spotlights highlight the decorative pebbles lying in the streambeds, the plantings and kitchen work spaces.

And when the night lights catch the birch limbs swaying to and fro, the spirits seem truly present.