Art Institute of Chicago, South Garden
This intimately scaled garden, built atop a parking garage on the south side of the Art Institute of Chicago, opens onto Michigan Avenue. Designed and constructed between 1962 and 1967, the garden is one of Dan Kiley’s best preserved commissions from the period.
The design is simple in composition and material. Moving inward from the avenue, two generous raised beds are planted with three staggered rows of honey locust trees that shade privet, ground cover, and flowering bulbs. The central plaza space is recessed 18” and is bisected by a rectangular pool that terminates at the Fountain of the Great Lakes, a sculptural fountain by Lorado Taft created in 1913. On either side of the pool raised planters containing a gridded bosque of cockspur hawthorn trees provide places to sit. Each planter is sited 20 feet on center and is under-planted with ground cover and herbaceous plants for color in the summer months. The low branching of the trees creates a canopy over the entire plaza. Along the rear of the space, honey locust trees and flowering shrubs frame the Taft fountain.