Whitacre Greer Boardwalk Pavers Contribute to 2009 ILASLA Award Winning Projects

Two projects utilizing Whitacre Greer Boardwalk fired-clay pavers were recognized recently at the 2009 ILASLA Awards Banquet.  One, the Marion Street Streetscape Design featued 3x9x3 (WxLxH) shade 36 Red Sunset Cobbled Boardwalk pavers.  The other, Hope For  The Healing Planet featured 2-1/4x9x3 (WxLxH) Permeable Boardwalk clay pavers in shades 50 Ivory, 52 Majestic and 53 Cimmerian.  Thank you Mariani Landscape and The Lakota Group!

The following descriptions appeared in Folio 2009, the Illinois Chapter American Society of Landscape Architects.

Marion Street Streetscape Design

Oak Park’s transformation from rural village to urban suburb can be traced over time on Marion Street.  Since the early 1870s, the corner of Marion Street and North Boulevard was the location of the commuter railroad station, connecting Oak Park to Chicago’s Loop.  Over decades, the high visibility offered by this transportation hub made it a prime location for commercial growth between the station and the growing business district on nearby Lake Street.  In an effort to compete with the indoor shopping centers of the 1970s, Lake and Marion Streets were converted to a pedestrian mall.  While vehicular access was later reintroduced to Lake Street, Marion Street remained a pedestrian mall.  Over the years the ‘Marion Mall,’ and its ability to attract and retain tenants, deteriorated while other blocks in the downtown thrived.

To combat the decline, the Village identified the enhancement of Marion Street as a catalytic project in its 2005 Downtown Master Plan update.  The Plan called for ‘Marion Mall’ to be reopened to vehicular traffic, with a European design that would enable it to be closed for street festivals and sidewalk sales events, and include traffic-calming elements to ensure low traffic speeds and pedestrian safety.

In November 2007, the Village of Oak Park unveiled its reconstructed and reopened Marion Street, the culmination of a two-year planning and design process, diligently led by the landscape architect.  A nod to the past and future, the streetscape improvements respect the heritage of the area’s role in the history of the community, and set a roadmap for the future look, character, and viability of this central business district.  The high-quality design and pedestrian amenities have renewed Marion Street and stimulated new investment and interest in the Village’s downtown, which in turn has enhanced the quality of life in Oak Park.

Honor Award Winner

The Lakota Group
Strand Associates, Inc
George Sollitt Construction Company
Metro Transportation Group

Hope for the Healing Planet

Seizing the opportunity to educate the general public on sustainable principles, the Chicago Botanic Gardencollaborated with Mariani Landscape to create a temporary garden display at the 2009 Chicago Flower & Garden Show.  The end result was a stunning garden which showcased environmentally-friendly design practices that could be easily replicated at a residential scale.  The garden illustrated that ‘green’ can be beautiful, as well as functional.

The landscape architect strived to transport the visitor from the trade show floor and into a garden oasis.  This was accomplished by having visitors weave through shoji screens at an entrance to the space and surrounding the garden with layers of tall arborvitae and mixed deciduous shrubs.  Once through the screens, the garden was revealed.

Those walking throughout the exhibit were treated to elegant arrangements of colorful greenery; a respite from the harsh winter outside.  The center of the space featured a zig-zag bridge made out of Ipe – a Brazilian hardwood which had been harvested under the guidelines of sustainable forestry practicies – and crossed a central water feature while directing views to key plant combinations.  Over 4,500 locally-grown plants were used including eastern redbud, forsythia, cornelian cherry, maple, and witch hazel.  Herbaceous plant material was selected to provide a tapestry of textures and avoid reliance on costly annual flowers to provide interest.  The design incorporated perennials, easily obtained at any garden center, in unique and engaging combinations to demonstrate to visitors how they could replicate the look at their homes.

To serve the educational mission, signage called attention to aesthetic and ecological benefits, such as managing stormwater, reducing heat-island effect and reducing energy consumption.  As a host to over 50,000 visitors, the garden served as an ambassador of sustainability, raising public awareness of the advantages of environmentally sensitive landscape features.

Honor Award Winner

Mariani Landscape
Lightscape, Inc
Masonry by Fernando
S.H. Bertucci