TERRA Engineering, Ltd. (TERRA) was retained by Northwestern University to develop schematic streetscape design documents for their 25-acre Chicago campus, located in the city’s Streeterville neighborhood. The Chicago campus is home to the medical school and affiliated hospitals, the law school, the part-time MBA program, and the School of Professional Studies. The project focused on analyzing existing conditions and providing recommendations and cost estimates for improvements intended to address accessibility issues, future utility improvements, and to develop a unified, campus-wide streetscape identity for the University.

Preservation of existing trees was a top priority for the University. TERRA conducted a detailed tree survey to document location and condition of existing parkway trees to use as the initial framework for design. The condition of existing foundation landscaping was analyzed, along with a detailed inventory of existing site furnishings. Existing sidewalks throughout the campus were also reviewed to identify any issues with accessibility requirements.

The proposed plan includes a consistent campus-wide framework for new parkway planters within the existing right-of-way intended to protect existing parkway trees, as well as provide opportunities for additional landscaping. Existing foundation plantings were enhanced where appropriate, and new landscaping was proposed at high profile locations to strengthen the campus identity throughout the project site. Site furnishings were proposed, including new roadway and pedestrian lighting, bicycle racks, benches, trash receptacles, and ornamental fencing.

Recommendations for University gateways were also developed, intended to improve branding for the campus. This included a review of existing wayfinding, and research of one of the campus’ first design features. The McKinlock Gate has been located on the Northwestern downtown campus since the 1920s. The proposed plan relocates the feature to a more visible location where it will be accessible to pedestrians and serve as an icon for the campus.

Construction documents, and construction of Phase One of the project are anticipated to begin in 2016.


Northwestern University