State Street Renovation
Chicago Department of Transportation, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc. (WLA) was the landscape architect and a consulting urban designer for the renovation of nine blocks of State Street in Chicago. Urban design goals included elimination of the transit mall, which was not successful, and weaving State Street back into the fabric of the Loop; contextual streetscape design, responsive to the architecture; widening the street and narrowing the sidewalks to make the street seem more dense and active and also to bring people closer to the storefronts; and reintroduction of automobiles.
The landscape design is appropriate to an urban street. Large six inch caliper shade trees were planted in rows in linear planters which provide large, continuous volumes of soil; planters are raised above sidewalk level with granite curbs, in order to protect soil from salt contamination and compaction and plants from damage; low, ornamental metal railings are mounted on planter curbs, for additional plant protection. Planting below the trees consists of a combination of seasonal shrubs, perennials, and annuals, including seasonal tropical plants that do very well in the shady environment.
WLA services also included coordination with the architects and engineers to ensure technical and structural coordination of the plan. Total project budget was $23 million with a $1 million planting budget, completed on time and within budget in 1996.