The Old Chicago Post Office has wrapped up its $800 million makeover with a proverbial cherry on top. The iconic West Loop structure, now home to PepsiCo, Uber, and Walgreens offices, has opened “The Meadow,” the nation’s largest private rooftop garden. Gensler Chicago, the architecture firm tasked with the revitalization of the long-neglected building, engaged Hoerr Schaudt to design a rooftop and office amenity space as unique as the building itself. The rooftop serves as an escape for the building’s 16,000 tenants, offering plenty of seating, a quarter-mile running track, a multi-sports court, and two platform tennis courts. The space is also available to rent for large events such as weddings and concerts.

The meadow at the old Chicago Post Office serves up a potent dose of urban nature providing tenants with an outdoor place to work and socialize. (Photo © Scott Shigley)

Located on the 13th story of the building, 10,000 helicopter lifts were required to position the project’s 40,000 plants and 50,000 cubic feet of soil on the roof. The Meadow is also home to three bee colonies which house more than 100,000 bees and aid in pollinating the flowers. The colonies are expected to produce over 100 pounds of honey each year, which will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Gathering spaces that capture views of the Chicago skyline are situated amongst undulating layers of perennials and grasses.

he rooftop was designed with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind. The urban meadows and trees will prevent more than a quarter-million gallons of stormwater from becoming polluted runoff. The 40,000 plants will capture over one million pounds of CO2, decreasing energy consumption as well as the emission of air pollutants and greenhouse gasses.

The design of this rooftop 'park' incorporates over 40,000 plants to envelop a network of walking paths, multi-use sport courts, and a jogging trail. (Photo @ Tim Rossiter)

In an ever-evolving corporate environment, an emphasis has been placed on employee health and wellness in order to attract high-quality employees and boost productivity. The Old Chicago Post Office rooftop delivers on this expectation by becoming an urban oasis and giving tenants a place to relax, exercise, and reconnect to nature. The recreation spaces provide an outlet for tenants to burn some calories and reset their minds. The rooftop comes at an especially relevant time as employees begin to navigate the return to work post-quarantine. Many seating pods have been spaced out across the rooftop and allow tenants to work outside or even socialize while maintaining social distancing in an open-air environment.

This project demonstrates the power that nature-focused recreation areas can have on the repositioning of our buildings and cities. Providing green space in a neighborhood that lacks it, The Meadow at the Old Chicago Post Office gives occupants the rare opportunity to relax, recharge, and recreate.

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