Art Institute of Chicago, South Garden
Built atop a parking garage on the south side of the Art Institute of Chicago, this intimately-scaled garden opens onto Michigan Avenue. Designed and constructed between 1962 and 1967 by Dan Kiley, the public space is one of his 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 which terminates at the Fountain of the Great Lakes, by Lorado Taft (1913). On either side of the pool is a gridded bosque of cockspur hawthorn trees (Crataegus crus-galli) in raised planters that ensure an optimal soil depth while providing a place 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 habit of the trees creates a canopy over of the entire plaza. Along the rear of the plaza, honey locust trees and flowering shrubs frame the Taft fountain.