The Big One: Park perfection

June 26, 2019 -  By

Company: Christy Webber Landscapes
Location: Chicago

With its fountains, lush galleries and stunning views, Millennium Park is one of Chicago’s major landmarks and a destination for residents and tourists alike.

The Chicago-based company Christy Webber Landscapes (CWL) has been responsible for landscape maintenance at the park since it opened in 2004. CWL was awarded the landscape management contract as part of the competitive bidding process undertaken by the park’s property manager, MB Real Estate.

CWL provides mowing and maintenance, spring and fall cleanups and snow and ice removal in the winter.

The company uses John Deere mowers and a utility vehicle; Stihl blowers and string trimmers and a range of hand tools for maintenance; and a John Deere skid-steer with multiple attachments for snow removal.

Millennium Park Executive Director Scott Stewart explains that the iconic 95,000-square-foot Great Lawn at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion hosts more than a million people at more than 100 events each year and must look perfect from June to September.

CWL Senior Account Manager John Alexander says the team regularly aerates and seeds the Great Lawn and other turf areas. CWL also partners with Bartlett Tree Experts to manage the park’s tree canopy.

The CWL team is also responsible for renovating some of the park’s landscape areas, transforming them into vibrant landscapes with diverse plants that require meticulous care.

Millennium Park (Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation)

Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation

The Great Lawn at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion is one of the park’s most striking and most-used features, hosting yoga and strength training workouts, movies, concerts and festivals. Christy Webber Landscapes (CWL) performs aeration up to twice each month and works with the Millennium Park Foundation (MPF) to close the Great Lawn and other turf areas for rest and recovery periods.

Millennium Park (Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation)

Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation

CWL installs annual seasonal plantings in Millennium Park’s entrance gardens that lead visitors from Michigan Avenue into the heart of the park. One highlight of these seasonal plantings is the spring tulips display installed the prior fall.

Millennium Park (Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation)

Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation

CWL, in partnership with the MPF, renovated and enhanced the landscapes in Millennium Park’s Boeing Galleries in fall 2018. The galleries are home to temporary art exhibitions curated by MPF. The planting design was a joint effort between CWL and MPF, led by the landscape designers at Christy Webber.

Millennium Park (Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation)

Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation

Renovations in the Boeing Galleries were extensive and included removal of all existing plant materials, soil regrading and amending, replanting with new plant materials and irrigation renovations.

Millennium Park (Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation)

Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation

CWL and MPF collaborated to renovate and enhance the East Concession Pad space at Millennium Park in spring 2018.

Millennium Park (Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation)

Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation

CWL and MPF expanded the size of the pad with the addition of two paver areas. The crews made further operational and aesthetic improvements to the pad, creating a more functional and welcoming concession space for visitors to the park.

Millennium Park (Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation)

Photo: Scott Stewart, Millennium Park Foundation

Millennium Park visitors enjoy the lush Great Lawn.

Abby Hart

About the Author:

Abby Hart is the managing editor of Landscape Management. A native Clevelander, she spent 10 years in Chicago, where she was operations manager of a global hospitality consultancy. She also worked as managing editor of Illumine, a health and wellness magazine; and a marketing specialist for B2B publications. Abby has a degree in journalism from Boston University’s College of Communication.

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