As part of the building boom around the new Museum Campus, our clients' new home enjoyed a terrace with a fantastic view of the new Soldier Field, a stone's throw away across Lake Shore Drive. At night the new addition to the stadium fairly glows, a spacecraft settling onto the columns of the old field. The Drive flows sinuously past, heading downtown and the lights of the skyscrapers there.
What the terrace lacked was focus and context. Wide open, with a tiny sun-baked patio of concrete pads surrounded by seeming acres of bleached river rock, the space provided absolutely no reason to venture outside. The views, however, convinced our clients that something could and should be done to make their outdoors more inviting and usable.
We began by enclosing the space on the south with open fencing and planter boxes to create the desired feeling of enclosure while avoiding completely walling off the neighbors. We added more planter boxes around the space to provide for the greenery we wanted, added an arbor and a willow screen trellis for visual interest, and installed a small splashing water feature surrounded by boxwood and colorful annuals.
To create visual interest and direct the eye, the concrete was stained in a color complementary to the planter boxes. Large resin planters were filled with purple-leafed shrubs, and tall grasses undulate in the night breezes. A central planter features wide planking for use as seating space. Landscape lighting highlights all the planted material in the evening, providing a soft foreground to the hard edges of the night city.
As with all our rooftop and terrace installations, a micro-irrigation system works unseen to water all the containers on a fixed schedule. The result: a lush and colorful counterpoint to the starkly beautiful night skyline.