Laird Bell Law quadrangle garden

The new garden within the Laird Bell Law Quadrangle is a unique experience – it challenges the notion of what is a garden. The Evanston-based Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp Landscape Architecture firm drew inspiration from the glass curtain wall of the library tower to create folded lawn panels that sit on a plane of crushed marble. 

In February 2010, the design process began to develop a garden within the Laird Bell Law Quadrangle, a complex begun in 1959 by Eero Saarinen. Sited to take advantage of impressive views of the library tower, zero depth reflecting pool, and the neogothic façade of Burton Judson Court, the landscape design provides a carefully orchestrated garden experience that responds to the juxtaposition of architectural genres. 

The modern garden style is seen in the clean lines of the metal-edged folded lawn panels, simple plant palette and signature benches. Multi-stemmed Betula papyrifera ‘Renaissance Reflection’ with chalky-white bark dot the landscape while a majestic fifty year old Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’ holds court in the south west corner of the garden.

An important element of the garden project was the conservation and resiting of Kenneth Armitage’s ‘Diarchy’ sculpture. The cast bronze sculpture was thoroughly cleaned and sealed prior to reinstallation and became a focal point in the new garden.  

In December 2001, the University of Chicago Botanic Garden received its first major gift, The Julie and Parker Hall Garden Endowment, to develop additional display gardens on campus and to then fund their long-term maintenance. This is a significant development for the campus landscape, and one in which the University and Facilities Services takes a great deal of pride. This garden is the fifth garden funded by the endowment, in a location enthusiastically endorsed by the donors, as Parker Hall’s grandfather was the second Dean of the University’s Law School. 

-- by Kathleen Golomb, landscape project manager