“The project presents landscape architects as artists.”
– 2017 Awards Jury
The Regenstein Learning Campus is a new environmental discovery center and nature playground at the Chicago Botanic Garden. This six-acre horticultural campus serves a vibrant community of families, offering an interactive experience with the natural world, while advancing the institution’s influence as a science and horticultural center that serves more than 125,000 people each year. The design immerses families and children of all ages to a variety of outdoor experiences that include inquiry focused learning and play that engenders a deeper understanding of ecological systems. The expansive garden includes a variety of natural experiences and explorations as visitors weave through the grassy mounds, water-play runnel, boulders, diverse woodland plantings and willow tunnels. This regenerative project is envisioned as a gateway to the natural world; one that highlights creative discovery in all seasons.
▲6英亩的场地位于芝加哥植物园的北侧，与之相邻的是停车场地和水上教学中心。The six-acre site is located in the northern section of the Chicago Botanic Garden, adjacent to the site parking areas and the Aquatic Learning Center.
学园的互动式景观将游戏和直觉经验教学自然地连接在一起。宽阔的草坪从起伏的山丘开始一直延伸至低处的湖景和喷泉。形如雕塑的地形定义出了中央区域的特征，同时强调了“风险平权”（dignity of risk）的理念：在保证安全的前提下，使各年龄段的儿童都有机会主动地进行探索。波浪般的小丘围合出一个圆形的露天场地，可用于公共集会和夜间活动。自然游乐园和多感官探索花园带来了自由开放的学习场景，使参观者对生态系统和当地植物种类进行深入的了解。另外还有蜂房、蝴蝶展览帐篷、入口处的紫荆花园、金钟柏冥想室以及角树集会场地等等。探索花园中的树木品种包括枫树、山杨和各类多年生植物。
▲设计方案包含一系列游乐场地：起伏的小丘、主草坪上的圆形露天场地、互动式的石砌水渠以及各类自然景观，共同成为了连接社区与自然世界的大门。The design includes a variety of play spaces, including the rolling mounds and amphitheater of the main lawn area, an interactive stone runnel and a nature play area, all of which offer a gateway to nature for the community.
▲一条环形的交通流线连接了各个互动空间，形成一种动态的、引发孩子们和家人共同进行探索的空间体验。An accessible circulation path winds through and connects each of the interactive spaces, creating a dynamic experience that inspires exploration for children and families.
▲雷根斯坦学园位于芝加哥植物园内，是一座全新的环境探索中心和自然游乐场，为使用者提供了关于自然世界的交互式体验。The Regenstein Learning Campus is an environmental discovery center and nature playground that provides interactive learning opportunities for children and families at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
▲起伏的草坪环绕在石砌的水渠周围，在傍晚的阳光下构成美丽的景致。Rolling landforms frame the landscape as visitors walk along the stone runnel, and create a particularly striking view in the evening sun.
▲蜿蜒的水渠不仅带来自然的游戏场地，还引发了游客对生态系统的认知。The serpentine runnel engages families and children of all ages in nature play activities that engenders an understanding of ecological systems.
▲漫步于雕塑般起伏的草丘，使游客与土地形重新形成连接。Weaving through the sculptural mounds evokes a sense of exploration and allows visitors an opportunity to reconnect to the Earth.
▲水渠的修筑使用了产自美国中西部的石材，如威斯康星州的粗石等。流水缓缓从鹅卵石上淌过，消失在小桥的下方。Stones sourced from the Midwest, including Wisconsin fieldstones, were used along the narrow channel of water that gently flows over cobble stones until it disappears under a bridging stone.
▲小丘、水渠和岩石等形态各异的元素相互交织，共同带来探索的氛围。Varying landscape elements, such as the rolling mounds, stone runnel, and boulders are woven together through the landscape to highlight a sense of discovery.
▲圆形的露天场地与草坪完美地融合，带来充满自然气息的户外学习空间。A grass amphitheater is integrated into the great lawn space to allow for outdoor learning in a natural environment.
▲孩子们可以在空心的原木树桩里穿梭嬉戏。Children are encouraged to climb, jump, and crawl through hollowed-out logs in the nature play area.
▲起伏的草丘使孩子们与自然环境产生亲密的互动。The grass mounds offer a unique opportunity for children to roll, climb and play while allowing them to regain a connection with nature.
▲浅浅的溪流为孩子们提供了戏水和玩耍的机会。The shallow stream of water in the runnel allows children to creatively interactive with the water while getting in touch with their playful side.
▲游戏区域周围种植着不同品种的本土植物，带来更丰富的感官体验。The plant beds surrounding the nature play area display a diverse range of native plants that further engages the sensorial experience.
▲动态的地形带来了广阔的景观视野，激发着游客们的探索和想象。Dynamic landforms offer expansive views of the landscape as well as opportunities for discovery and imagination.
The design of the campus demonstrates nature education and ecological stewardship through various landscape destinations and outdoor classroom opportunities. The organization of the spaces link the interior with the surrounding landscape, creating an environment that is a tangible and dynamic part of the environmental curriculum. Programming includes educational classes on botany, the culinary arts, garden design, horticulture, photography, bird watching, and wellness. The campus focuses on youth and family programming, including a Nature Pre-school, a summer camp for toddlers to teens, and Scout Programs for kids of all ages. Campout programming in the central space allows for visitors to stay overnight for events such as nocturnal creature and reptile viewing.
As an educational landscape, the garden has many engaging elements that naturally bridge the transition between play and intuitive experiential learning. The large lawn area begins with upland play mounds and leads to a lowland fountain fed from the adjacent lake. These sculptural landforms define the character of the central space and reinforce the concept of “dignity of risk” where children of all ages and abilities are safe but have the opportunity to play and discover in active ways. Rolling hillocks merge into a green amphitheater that accommodates public gatherings and evening events. Open exploration through the Nature Play Garden and the Multi-sensory Discovery Garden allows for visitors to develop a greater understanding of ecological systems as well as the diverse plant palette of the region. Other places of ecological discovery include an apiary and butterly exhibition tent, a grove of redbud trees that define the entry experience, the arborvitae contemplative room, and the hornbeam council ring. The tree species includes a diverse planting of maples, aspens and perennials that form the discovery gardens.
A variety of ecological typologies and natural woodland plant communities are established along the perimeter of the garden that link to active elements within the core of the campus. Explorers can walk through a willow tunnel, immerse themselves in an arborvitae contemplative room or commune with others in a hornbeam council ring. Other experiences in the garden invites children to touch and feel by climbing on stone boulders, crawl through hollowed out wood logs, or splash through a stream water feature. These multisensory experiences challenge visitors to engage the garden through the seasons and during the day and at night. The upper garden adjacent to the Learning Center includes an apiary, a butterfly garden, outdoor classroom spaces for art and gardening instruction. A large terrace from the building entry has a vista to the landform garden and is used for yoga and tai-chi classes. A meandering pathway was designed around an existing Norway Spruce and large overcup Oak Tree and leads to a secret garden with a fire pit, log benches and picnic tables. Transplanted Freeman maples bring character to this space.
Sustainability drove the design of the runnels, the stone bridges, the fire pit and the upper paved terrace. Local and regional materials from the Midwest were sourced for the play runnel, providing a cooling oasis during the summer months. A central boulder fountain within the runnel offers children of all abilities to engage the water. Reclaimed logs were carved to create moments of play for children to crawl and hide and seek. Regionally sourced boulders offer moments of discovery throughout the landscape. Rain gardens in the Northwest corner of the garden provide additional opportunites for discovery and learning while addressing important stormwater management issues.
The campus links to two previously existing amenities to create a larger learning environment. To the Northeast is the Grunsfeld Growing Garden which houses a herb and culinary garden. To the West, the campus links to the Kleinman Family Cove, an aquatics learning center for families and children. Together these three distinct learning environment now read as one experience providing a rich and highly programmed learning center for the Chicago Botanic Garden; one that is as much about touching, smelling and feeling as it is about visual beauty.
Discovery and imagination are emphasized in the vision of this design, offering visitors fertile ground for the expansion of the mind and body. The conception of the Regenstein Learning Campus emerged from a share concern about the increasingly distant relationship of children to nature as they are further plugged into the digital world. This new garden is an important first step in providing a place of learning by doing as it encourages direction engagement with the natural cycles of nature and reconnects our youth to the ecological world.