One hundred feet above Chicago’s famed “Magnificent Mile,” residents of this condominium building retreat to an urban Acropolis: nearly 14,000 square feet of luxury green and flowering landscape, with spacious zones in which to entertain friends, grill hamburgers, or follow the axial paths and sightlines that connect the garden to the magisterial Chicago skyline.

Before

After

However, before the green roof’s transformation, it was a running track that sat abandoned and unused. While generous lake views on the building’s East side were driving up the price and demand for condominiums, the barren rooftop vista to the West was hindering the building’s ability to sell its Western facing units. Understanding the competitiveness of downtown condo buildings, and that the 10th floor track was an untapped amenity, the building’s management engaged Hoerr Schaudt to transform the space into a rooftop garden, a place in the sky where residents could find peace and solace amid bustling downtown Chicago.

The new green roof utilizes modular green roof trays to create an exciting, four-season garden with multiple levels. The garden features planting and structural patterns inspired by aerial views of the Midwest’s agrarian landscape and incorporates art elements to screen mechanical structures. A unique structural system elevates varied portions of the trays to increase the difference in height of plant materials.

Flowering perennials, tall grasses, and ornamental trees challenge the confines of the ordered grid to celebrate the exuberance of nature. Bold sculptural elements that include wood-clad sky frames and custom-designed pergolas create space and reflect the surrounding architectural structure of the garden.

Residents can now sit amid the hush of waving grasses and bobbing allium, surrounded by towering skyscrapers. This startling juxtaposition is a key intent of the design, reminding one of their position in a lively metropolis while treating their senses to the kind of nature they assumed was unavailable in urban life. Tenants of surrounding buildings watch its seasonal change, growth, and regeneration each spring.

ASLA Illinois Presidential Award 2011

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, Green Roof Award of Excellence 2008

Mayor Daley Landscape Award 2007