Cantigny Park Garden and Landscape Improvements - Phase 1
Wheaton, Ill.
Best Project

Owner: Cantigny Park
Lead Design Firm/Civil Engineer/Landscape Architect: Sasaki
General Contractor: Featherstone, Inc.
Structural Engineer: RSE Associates Inc.
MEP Engineer: Burke Engineering
Associate Landscape Architect: Living Habitats

The initial $22.3-million phase of a long-term program aimed at revitalizing this 140-acre park integrated extensive infrastructure improvements, redesigned and redeveloped the display gardens, added an oak-lined colonnade, expanded a gathering plaza and took steps to improve circulation and accessibility. 

Challenged to weave stormwater management throughout the park fabric while preserving the gardens’ original vision, the project team used such tools as a blade-mounted GPS system that guided excavation and grading of a major retention pond and wet marsh. Precision horizontal directional drilling methods guided installation of sanitary sewers and storm drains, achieving slopes of less than 1% and minimizing risks to existing specimen trees.

Enhancing the enlarged pile-edged Gold Pond with a mix of hard and soft edges allows visitors to enjoy the area without affecting emergent vegetation. The planting strategy was guided by a modeled hydrograph of the pond, with the adjacent landscape designed to withstand anticipated flood conditions. An underutilized area adjacent to a parking lot was transformed into a verdant constructed wetland, while a new “Prairie View” landscape feature celebrating the region’s native vegetation is dotted with “micro-detention ponds of varying sizes to create a diverse habitat and slow stormwater flow.

By incorporating clearly established sequencing plans into the construction documents, the park remained open while the improvements were carried out. Separating public programs and garden access from construction activities allowed visitors to enjoy the gardens safely while workers focused on improvements that provide the foundation for future enhancements.

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