Landscape Architect for Lurie Garden returns to Chicago to discuss the pressures to “go big” in design vs retaining complexity, idiosyncrasy, and natural nuance in a designed landscape.

Landscape architecture has not been immune to the pressures in recent decades to “go big” or “world class” to register an effective visual impact within this challenging, grandly scaled setting. In this talk, Shannon Nichol, founding partner of GGN, will encourage “going small and going slow” to create a different type of placemaking that suits both residents and visitors.

Twenty years ago creators of Millennium Park chose the young Seattle landscape architecture firm, GGN, to design a garden for the park. Many proposals for the space suggested formal tidy gardens which replicated the typical expectations of what public gardens should look like.

The design by GGN was chosen because, paired with Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf, their vision was for a space where people and wildlife could enjoy a naturalistic garden in a space that was infused with the city’s history, inviting but also shielded from the busy city.

Shannon Nichol, left, talks to the Lurie Garden staff in October 2018 about garden lighting updates.

GGN’s work incorporates often-forgotten local ecologies and daily vernacular into prominent urban sites. GGN’s design process, which continues to utilize hand-drawing as a design tool heavily, will be shown, providing insight into a design firm working to retain complexity, idiosyncrasy, and natural nuance in the designed landscape. The importance of native plants, resurfacing and repairing the unique, and the multi-thousand-year evolution of plants and animals in each place, will be discussed at this lecture.

Shannon Nichol will be lecturing at the Chicago Cultural Center on Wednesday, January 30, 7:00pm-8:30pm. This event is free, but registration is required at

Read the blog post by Shannon Nichol on the historical references in Lurie Garden’s design.
Read the blog post about Lurie Garden’s design team’s continual involvement in the garden and its evolution.
Learn more about GGN’s New Monograph.

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