American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2005 Professional Awards
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Plan illustrating assemblages of individual projects as a unified whole.
Pre-existing condition of State Street Boulevard with on-street parking; Pre-existing condition of Crown Hall Field, with Crown Hall in the background; Pre-existing condition of Federal Street, with road adjacent to building (photo: Leslie Schwartz).
Chronological phasing of State Street Boulevard, Crown Hall Field, Federal Street, and State Street Village projects.
Student sitting and reading along sloped lawn edge of Crown Hall Field. (photo: Leslie Schwartz).
View of limestone seating and fountain area north of Crown Hall Field. (photo: Leslie Schwartz).
State Street Boulevard “Before” and “After” Cross Sections.
Reconfigured State Street Boulevard illustrating union of East and West landscape, with expanded parkway and removal of on-street parking. (photo: Leslie Schwartz).

Illinois Institute of Technology Campus, Chicago, IL
Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture, Inc., Chicago, IL

"Productive landscape and a beautiful landscape . . . this will put the students directly in touch with agriculture . . .biggest stroke is to put test plots in the middle of campus."

— 2005 Professional Awards Jury Comments

The process of creating a special place takes time. Over the past five years, Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture, Inc., has been working to construct a viable, dynamic, and coherent setting for the academic community at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). Their awards submission encompassed five projects: individual components of a larger vision to revitalize one of the most important Modern campuses in the country.

The vision of the Illinois Institute of Technology was developed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), coupled with landscape architect Alfred Caldwell (1903-1998). Together, they crafted a campus that “flowed like water around stones into the open and compressed spaces created by buildings sliding past one another.” (Phyllis Lambert, Mies in America) The landscape of the IIT campus represents the legacy of Alfred Caldwell, a landscape architect, teacher, and protégé of Jens Jensen, who collaborated with Mies for years at IIT. Caldwell was IIT’s landscape architect when Mies’ buildings were erected in the 1940s. Although Caldwell never fully developed a landscape master plan for the campus, his design concepts of horizontality and using native plants have strongly influenced the collective thinking in the IIT community.

Working with an institution rich in history and precedent, the landscape architects made deliberate decisions on how to operate within this context. One goal was to be sensitive to the relationships created between Mies’ and Caldwell’s work. Although Caldwell’s planting plans are not available, the landscape architects attempted (using arrangements of native Midwestern plants) to create planted spaces in the spirit of Caldwell. Doing this necessitated moments of reinterpreting Caldwell’s intentions, and in these moments they invested a sense of simplicity and restraint akin to Mies’ Modern aesthetic.

For many years, neither Mies’ architecture, nor Caldwell’s landscape had been maintained; the campus was in a state of disrepair when the landscape architects first began working with the campus. They found that the campus lacked cohesion due to declining plant material and the dominance of streets and parking lots throughout the campus. For instance, State Street, the elevated “L” train line, and parking lots, have long separated the two sides of the IIT campus, effectively dividing the community in half. Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture, Inc. was part of a team hired to create a master plan to address these problems in a unified manner. The projects in this awards submission included the built resolution and implementation of the master plan’s recommendations:

State Street Boulevard Size – 12 acres Completed 2000
State Street is one of the major north-south streets connecting Chicago’s “Loop” to the South Side of Chicago; State Street also bisects IIT into two halves. This component of the Master Plan initiated IIT’s recommitment to its landscape. The revitalization concept is a simple, yet radical solution: eliminate the on-street parking from 30th to 35th Streets and enlarge the parkway widths, allowing space for a reinterpretation of Caldwell’s landscape around Crown Hall and along the entire length of State Street. Widening the parkways and planting both the parkway and median (with over three-hundred trees) “fused” together both sides of the campus, engendering a sense of connection that was previously absent.

Crown Hall Field Size – 2 acres
Completed 2001

Located at the core of the campus, Crown Hall Field was designated in the Master Plan as the central campus open space. The landscape architects intended to develop an honorific and welcoming landscape, one that marks Crown Hall as the center of the IIT campus. The design for the space focuses on a sunken, rectangular lawn, which curves at one corner to accommodate an existing grove of mature Honeylocusts. In keeping with Caldwell’s preference for native Midwestern plantings, a dense placement of shade trees and flowering trees border and define the central open space. The density of trees and the exaggerated effect of open and closed spaces express the abstracted Midwestern landscape represented in the urban environment, a concept inherent in Caldwell’s work. Topographically, the sloped perimeter of the field creates a sense of enclosure and provides places for lawn and limestone slab seating while the open center of the field provides space for activity.

Federal Street Size – 2.25 acres
Completed 2002

The realignment of Federal Street facilitated the Master Plan goal of relocating parking from State Street by providing expanded lots along Federal Street. A crushed stone forecourt, flanked by woodland trees and perennials, was created in front of the historic “pre-Miesian” Main Building. The plantings maintained a Master Plan mandate to wrap buildings with a textured groundplane, and not disrupt the horizontal landscape geometry with shrubs. An existing linden allée was thinned and a crushed stone plaza with monolithic benches was placed underneath the lindens, providing an outdoor gathering space for students. At both locations, spaces were generated that offered opportunities for casual gathering.

State Street Village Size – 1 acre Completed 2003
Three identical dormitories, connected with a continuous roof, have recently been added to the IIT campus. Each dormitory building contains a courtyard, and each courtyard consists of a formal bosque of white-barked birch trees to contrast with the dark pavement of the plaza. These courtyards create a series of “oases” on State Street. The corridors penetrating between the buildings are designed with respect to Alfred Caldwell’s native landscape of the historic IIT campus. These planting and pedestrian gestures visually connect both sides of the campus, reiterating our efforts with State Street Boulevard.

Crown Hall Planting Restoration
In Progress

IITRI Tower Renovation
In Progress

IIT Research Park
In Progress

These projects have continued the legacy left behind by Mies and Caldwell. The firm of Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture, Inc. hope their work at IIT demonstrates a successful reinterpretation of historic landscapes, and reveals a response to historic idioms as well as contemporary needs and challenges. Through their sensitivity to precedent and innovation in landscape design, they continue to contribute to the rich landscape heritage at IIT.

Linden allée along Federal Street with limestone benches and crushed granite paving.
Transformation of Federal Street by creating formal entrance to building flanked by planted areas. (Photo courtesy of IIT).
Façade view of IIT State Street Village, showing alternating formal courtyards and informal “Caldwell-like” plantings. (photo: Leslie Schwartz).
Interior birch courtyard perspective looking across State Street Boulevard to Crown Hall Field. (photo: Leslie Schwartz).
Exterior view in re-interpreted Caldwell planting corridor looking across (and connecting with) state street boulevard (photo: Yukio Futagawa).
Replanted edge of Crown Hall Field, with State Street Boulevard to left of image. (photo: Leslie Schwartz).
Aerial view looking north along State Street during the fall. Boulevard acts as unifying spine through campus. (photo: Richard Barnes).
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