Trump Fires Landscape Design from Chicago Tower; Uninspired Replacement

By on June 9, 2011.

To the chagrin of many a Chicago citizen, the management company at the Trump Tower in Chicago, IL recently decided that it was a good idea to tear up a 1 year old landscape design in their entrance plaza.

That plaza’s landscape architect, Peter Schaudt, is horrified over the incident. What’s worse: installation of the new landscape design by Chicago landscape architect Daniel Weinbach has recently taken root and the differences are clearly noticable.

All that is left of Schaudt’s design are pictures and a few trees

Weinbach’s design  keeps the trees that were installed (probably to save cost) and radically changes the undulating beds of grasses installed by Schaudt to something more of a replica of many of Weinbach’s other projects. Utilizing a seemingly usual style, Weinbach creates what he calls, “a series of very soft curvilinear bandings.” The effect is drastic. Perennial grasses and sculptural tufts of lace-like plantings are replaced with traditional beds of  juniper, boxwood, gray stone and purple perennials. The vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows that made the plaza pop have now been blended into the city with Weinbach’s cool and overwhelmingly uninspired palette.

Blair Kamin of Cityscape, “What’s left unspoken is the design’s implied critique of Schaudt’s plantings: The plaza may be located along the Chicago River, but it’s pretentious to design this manmade structure as a naturalistic river edge. As if to underscore this break, the Trump people plan to shine lights upward on their trees at night with hopes of drawing more people to the plaza after dark. That’s not going to sit well with advocates of the “dark skies” movement who strive to reduce light pollution so people can see the stars.”

Even though the design isn’t fully realized yet, my initial reaction is that the new design is rather rudimentary. A quick look at the breadth of Weinbach’s design indicates that this is a go-to style. is doesnt speak to the progression of space as you move through it and rather bows to the need to have a bold and blatent geometry when viewing from the above offices. Employee views > User views it seems.

One can surmise that this new landscape will retain more of its shape in the winter months because of the strong use of evergreens – and that may be one of the main impetuses of the redesign. However, if that is the case – why hire Schaudt in the first place and approve the design. The management company states that there is some small sumof money to be saved because the new planting needs less what. Im calling shenanigans on that one as well as the notion that it will save any money whatsoever – when does water savings catch up with redesign, clearing, and replanting fees?

Benjamin Boyd is the editor of Landscape Invocation and a graduate of the University of Florida. Ben currently practices landscape design in Washington D.C.



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