We are honored to announce that Hoerr Schaudt’s design for the Michigan Avenue Streetscape plantings is the recipient of the 2016 ASLA Landmark Award, which recognizes a distinguished landscape architecture project completed between 15 and 50 years ago that retains its original design integrity and contributes significantly to the public realm in which it is located. The jury noted, “It’s a project that has a four-season impact. The success of what was done on Michigan Avenue was hugely influential in many other cities. It changed the way Chicago feels; you feel like you’re walking into someone’s home.”

Since 1993, this bold strip of beautiful landscape has run down the median of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. It spans the 33 blocks (2.3 miles) from Roosevelt Road in Chicago’s Loop up to Oak Street in the city’s Gold Coast, enlivening the prominent street with seasonal plant displays of enormous scale, color, complexity, and texture.

The project began as an initiative introduced by Mayor Richard M. Daley, Honorary ASLA, and a committee of prominent Chicago business and civic leaders to beautify one of the city’s most prime pieces of real estate and transform it into a stunning public space. “After returning from two years England, there was clearly a stark contrast between Michigan Avenue and any street in the UK,” reflects Doug Hoerr. Thus, this partnership between public and private entities, combined with Doug’s vision, forever changed the Michigan Avenue streetscape.

Originally 30 planters were built, 19 north of the Chicago River and 11 to the south. In the late 1990s, the median planters on the south section were significantly enlarged. Today they vary in length from six feet up to 190 feet and nine to 25 feet wide. The largest planters even include trees, which were 18 feet high at installation and now rise more than 30 feet above the road in front of the Art Institute.

The original design team produced more than 60 different schemes over Hoerr Schaudt’s 20 years of involvement in the project. New planting designs were installed three times each year, with various season-appropriate patterns, colors, and textures. Due to the project’s success, Chicago has since landscaped more than 100 miles of median space. Many other cities have followed suit, making the Magnificent Mile median an international model for civic urban landscape design.

Hoerr Schaudt will accept this award on Monday, October 25th during the National ASLA Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

For more information, see the article featuring the project in Landscape Architecture Magazine and the full award submission from the ASLA.

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