Size & Type of Project:
27.7 acres, Open Space - Garden / Arboretum
Former Land Use:
Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests
Permeable Pavers: The Main Parking Lot project had the first large scale, high profile permeable paver installation in the Midwest.
Bioswales: The project had some of the first bioswales used in the Midwest.
Wetland Restoration: The Meadow Lake restoration project was one of the first projects to implement extensive wetland plantings around a stormwater management feature for bio-filtration, native habitat, and wetland restoration. In a cross section of the lake edge, there are submergent, emergent, and wet mesic plant zones; this cross-section is often referred to as a littoral or riparian edge.
While these practices seem common nowadays, they were revolutionary at the time. The Morton Arboretum took risks in pursuing these features for their project and set an example that had a tremendous impact on how development is pursued in the region today. The staff and design team had a solid understanding of the reach the design features of this project would have, and the opportunities they had to influence local development practices. At the time when the project was getting started, the industry was abuzz with new ideas on sustainable design practices. The problem was that nobody was willing to risk being the first ones to try these untested ideas on their own projects. Manufacturers and suppliers didn’t have the incentive to mass produce the materials required to support the fledgling green movement. The local codes and ordinances also did not accommodate green construction practices, and nobody wanted to be the first to challenge the established rules and practices.
Funding for some of the environmental innovations of the parking lot was provided from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. An EPA grant of $1.2 million provided partial support for the $3 million parking lot renovation.
The integrated design team worked well together to create a living and teaching example of a user-friendly green solution for parking and storm water management.
Established in 1922, The Morton Arboretum is a magnificent outdoor museum with a mission to collect and study trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world, to display them across naturally beautiful landscapes for people to study and enjoy, and to learn how to grow them in ways that enhance our environment. Our goal is to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. The Arboretum ranks among the leading arboretums of the world in size, age, quality of specimens, and programs in Plant Collections, Research, and Education.
The site will continue to be monitored by Arboretum staff, who will measure water quality, runoff quantity over time, and evaluate the success of plant material along the edge of the lake and the bioswales in the parking lot.
The Arboretum hopes to be able to use the SITES project designation in many educational events and public relations announcements. Additionally, SITES principles are influencing the planning of future capital improvements to the 1700-acre arboretum grounds.
Goals for Meadow Lake included improving the water quality, normalizing the lake level by isolating it from the surrounding water table, and stabilizing the embankments with well-rooted plants.
Goals for the parking lot project included replacing an inadequate asphalt parking lot with an environmentally sound solution that could provide better storm water and non point source pollution management, and providing an aesthetically pleasing educational opportunity for the region.
Key project successes include providing our visitors and many other visiting professionals with a successful example of best management practices used for a large parking lot and adjacent lake area within an arboretum setting.
This project highlighted the importance of documenting the construction process and has impacted the construction contracts for future Arboretum projects.
The Morton Arboretum
Gerry Donnelly, CEO
Kris Bachtell, Head of Collections
Ralph Grieco, Capital Projects Manager
Scott Mehaffey, Landscape Architect
Conservation Design Forum
James Patchett, Principal
Thomas Price, Principal
Jay Womack, Project Manager
Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH)
W. James Marold, PE, Project manager
John P. Chitty, Principal Environmental Scientist
Peter T. Mulvaney, Wetland Biologist
Ken Bagstad, Wetland Botanist
Christopher B. Burke Engineering West Ltd.
Andy Sikich, Project Manager
Pat Kelsey, Environmental
Baetis Environmental Services