Marshall Field Garden Apartments Renovation
Nia Architects, Related Midwest
The Marshall Field Garden Apartments on the north side of Chicago is an early example of private sector investment in affordable housing and urban redevelopment. The goal was not only to provide housing at a reasonable cost but also to provide a catalyst for renewal of the surrounding area. The residential development was completed in 1929, but even after interim renovations by 2013 there was need for additional investment and renovation, which was undertaken by Related Midwest after purchase of the property.
Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc. was selected as the landscape architect both for its knowledge of Chicago’s landscape ordinance (WLA was the author in 1991) and sensitivity to historic preservation issues based on its long-standing historic landscape preservation practice. The landscape architect’s services included site inventory and analysis, evaluation of existing trees and landscaping, preparation of a tree removal and preservation plan, and landscape, hardscape, and playground design and documentation. Site design was complicated and constrained by the existing grades, especially the center sunken courtyard; the extensive root systems of existing mature trees; and the City’s requirements for on-site stormwater detention, equally constrained by the grades and existing trees. Existing trees, which are essentially “historic fabric,” were retained wherever possible. Every effort was made to specify new playground equipment that would be compatible with the historic environment, even if it were clear that the equipment itself was not historic. Care was taken to provide multi-purpose play areas using artificial turf, and equally to locate proposed planting beds behind railings and site furnishings in order to protect them from pedestrian trampling and damage.
Project design and documentation were initiated in November 2014, and construction was completed on time and on budget in the fall of 2016.