A Chicago roof garden is lush and private, thanks to hardy plants, shoji screens, and well-camouflaged mechanicals.
Roof gardens can cool dense cities, making them more livable. This one, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, sits atop a five-story building and is reached by way of a spiral staircase on the penthouse balcony. Not only does the garden connect the owner to nature and a skyline view, it also thrives in a city famous for its strong winds and extreme seasonal temperatures.
The expansive terrace, designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, is a Midwest prairie in microcosm. Two steel and mesh pergolas—a smaller one leading into the garden from the rooftop’s service entrance, and a larger one sheltering the seating area—are connected by slate pathways that wind past ipe planter boxes and a meadow of perennials and ornamental grasses. Structural concerns and exposure to the elements, of course, make rooftop transformations tricky.