Regenstein Learning Campus (Botanic Garden) by Mikyoung Kim
2017 - 2018, Platinum A' Landscape Planning and Garden Design Award Winner
This regenerative project is envisioned as a gateway to the natural world. The conception of the Regenstein Learning Campus emerged from a shared concern about children’s increasingly distant relationship to nature as they are further plugged into the digital world. As the idea of getting dirty in the outdoors becomes more of an abstraction for children, we have designed this garden to highlight process, transformation, and creative discovery.
The Regenstein Learning Campus is a new environmental discovery center and nature playground at the Chicago Botanic Garden serving more than 125,000 people each year. The design immerses families and children of all ages in a variety of outdoor experiences that engenders a deeper understanding of ecological systems. Visitors encounter a variety of natural experiences and explorations as they weave through the grassy mounds, water runnels, boulders, diverse woodland plantings and willow tunnels.
Design Challenges
The hardest creative challenge for the Regenstein Learning Campus was managing the design of the grading. The site, at its lowest point, was prone to flooding and so the site strategies had to include mitigation of this condition.
Production Technology
Sustainability drove the design of the runnels, the stone bridges, the fire pit and the upper paved terrace. Local and regional materials from the Midwest were sourced for the play runnel, providing a cooling oasis during the summer months. Regionally sourced boulders offer moments of discovery throughout the landscape. Rain gardens in the Northwest corner of the garden provide additional opportunities for discovery and learning while addressing important stormwater management issues.
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