Don Deporter Gateway
Chicago Gateway Green Committee, City of Chicago, Illinois Department of Transportation
Don DePorter was the founder of Chicago Gateway Green Committee, a not-for-profit organization whose goal was to beautify the expressways and entries into Chicago. The first major project undertaken by the committee is located at the intersection of Ohio, Ontario, and Orleans Streets, where the entry ramps from the Kennedy Expressway enter the city. Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc. was retained to design this location in a way that would be commensurate with its visibility, appropriate to the distance and speed of the drivers who see it, while also affordable and maintainable. Another design requirement was to incorporate a large sculpture, “Being Born,” by the Chicago artist Virginio Ferrari. The first task was to locate the sculpture where it would be visible but pose no safety problems; this location was reviewed and approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation before we proceeded further. A group of existing Austrian pines was reinforced to make an evergreen backdrop for the sculpture. Three flagpoles were added, with lighting for the sculpture and the flagpoles. The landscape design is a series of concentric circles of different plants. Rings of plants include junipers at the base of the sculpture, a large ring of mixed perennials (daylilies, black-eyed Susan, Shasta daisies, coreopsis, and yarrow), another ring of junipers, and a last ring of red Meidiland roses. All planting is irrigated, and all the plants have survived in an environment characterized by salt spray, extremes of hot and cold, winds, and pollution. The project was completed in record time from conceptual design to construction in time for the 1996 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. A memorial was added in 1997 to honor Mr. DePorter, who passed away just before this project was completed.