C+S April 2020 Vol. 6 Issue 4 (web)

Bennett Park had to be designed to serve both building residents and the surrounding neighborhood. The new park offers an inviting animated playscape boasting a soft, spongy blue-green play pad with slides built into a hillside. There is a climbing forest, kid cabins, and a walking path winding around a com- munity lawn rimmed by shrubs to subtly provide a sense of enclosure. Beyond, a shady grove of trees contrasts the multipurpose spaces with small, secluded meeting moments tucked along the west edge. Two separately fenced dog runs - large and small – invite public access. Thoughtfully planned breaks in fencing offer neighbors cross-block pass-throughs. “Neighborhoods are very important in Chicago. Streeterville is a tight- knit community. This park had to offer something for everyone: people with dogs, kids, grandkids, or no kids,” continues Solano. “A flat land- scape doesn’t inspire; our work is sculptural with lots of topography. The configurations we design can be tricky. We do a grading plans, lots of studies, and often build models before we are satisfied.” Once the design is understood, configuring a geofoam purchase order to fill the bill can be something of a puzzle in and of itself. In solving these puzzles, landscape architects and contractors around the country find ready, reliable expertise in Atlas Molded Products. “The geofoam manufacturer is almost always involved in the shop drawings, which is critical to success.” says Solano. “They help with specifying their products and figuring out critical details such as: how joints are handled; how many gripper plates are needed; and how the foam needs to be cut and carved, which is super critical to getting the right forms.” For One Bennett Park Atlas’ product representatives helped define a comprehensive purchase order that included Atlas Geofoam in two different densities, 15 and 19. Rather than delivering a single load of geofoam, Atlas pre-packaged and marked geofoam pieces into specific area-by-area bundles for easier configuration and installation. During construction, Atlas’ onsite presence helped the contractor’s teams un- derstand the assembly process and details. “Collaboration is essential to success in design and that includes le- veraging the expertise of manufacturers like Atlas Molded Products,” finishes Solano. “Without geofoam, many of our designs on rooftops and over unstable soil conditions wouldn’t be possible. Geofoam is a very hard-working product that is simple to use with a little help and practice. It’s well worth the cost.”

Peter Aaron Exterior

the park were designed to be built over the garage. That’s where the geofoam comes in,” remarked DeCapri. DeCapri noted that before One Bennett Park his exposure to geofoam and molded polystyrene foam insulations had been with conventional applications like retaining soil and insulating a foundation wall, roof, or vertical wall cavity. Seeing the landscape vision proposed by MVVA’s team, DeCapri understood that it was more than just the light weight of geofoam that made Atlas’ product the ideal building material. “The geofoam was key because this two-acre landscape rises as much as 24 feet above grade in some places,” says DeCapri. “The existing garage has limited loading capacity so significant contouring wouldn’t have been possible if the garage deck had to be loaded with soil.” Previously the top of the garage was an uninviting collection of slop- ing surfaces resembling origami; largely the domain of neighborhood dog walkers and loiterers. The reimagined green space adorning One

SEAN O’KEEFE writes design and construction industry stories based on 20 years of experience and a keen interest in the people who make projects happen. He can be reached at sean@sokpr.com.


april 2020


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