Kathryn Gustafson- Lurie Garden

Lurie Garden

Kathryn Gustafson is a well-known Landscape Architect that has received multiple awards for her creativeness and achievements. She began her career as a fashion designer, but found interest in Landscape Architecture and decided to pursue a profession in it. She says that many of her ideas/inspirations are linked back to growing up in Yakima, Washington, an agricultural valley where the landscape is sculpted by canals that cut through desert, creating a contrast between the rich greens and the more natural earth colors of the deserts.

One of Gustafson’s well-known projects is Lurie Garden, a three acre botanical garden located in downtown Chicago. Lurie Garden is part of Chicago’s downtown Millennium Park, built in 2004 to celebrate the millennium. Lurie Garden is a contemporary roof garden that was designed to take in the regions natural history. Before the city ever existed, the area was once covered by a flat marshy prairie that has long been forgotten. Gustafson and her designers wanted restore many of these elements by using native plants and plant materials to create a symbolic Landscape. The Garden is enclosed by the Shoulder Hedge, a wall of trees that symbolizes the Northern Boreal Forest that once painted an image of Chicago as the “City of Big Shoulders.”  Within these walls the garden is divided into two plates, the Dark Plate which symbolizes Chicago’s marshy past and the Light Plate which symbolizes the current prairie farmlands. Cutting through the garden is a wooden boardwalk that hovers over a shallow water feature, representing how Chicago raised its streets and building from the water. Lurie Garden allows people to experience the distinctions between the cities’ past and present forms in an intimate level.


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