The Art Institute of Chicago commissioned OLIN to redesign the museum’s north garden, The Stanley McCormick Court. The new design provides a setting for Alexander Calder’s Flying Dragon sculpture, while improving views, enlarging the central grass area, and creating a sunny, open space to contrast with the shady, tree-filled South Court. The courtyard lawn has always been a favorite place to stop and sit. To foster this tradition, the central lawn panel was enlarged, raised slightly above the surrounding walk, and edged with a granite curb. The Calder sculpture was placed on the centerline of the classical loggia on the north side of the museum’s Robert Allerton Building. To break the symmetry, a rectangular bed of periwinkle was planted east of the building center-line within the lawn panel. Three parallel bands, one planted with ornamental grasses, the second with Siberian irises, and the third with daylilies, run along the eastern edge of the periwinkle bed. These planted bands are meant to evoke the marshy shoreline of a natural prairie river. A double row of native honey locust trees provide a delicate veil between the court and the facade of the museum’s Ferguson Wing. Seasonal planting beds designed to frame the central composition were arranged along the outside edge of the walk surrounding the lawn on the north and east. New trees and seating were also installed.
Art Institute of Chicago