Lake Forest Hospital landscape, signage plans forwarded to City Council

Landscape and signage plans for the revitalized Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital campus were accepted by the Plan Commission and forwarded to the Lake Forest City Council for its consideration, possibly as early as Sept. 2.

Landscape berms buffering residential areas surrounded the campus “will be one of the first initiatives we advance,” Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital President Thomas McAfee said at the commission meeting on July 31. “We want to get vegetative growth over the next three years.”

Mass excavation on campus for the new hospital is expected to begin in October, McAfee said, noting that the project is on track for the first patient’s arrival in the fall of 2017.

“There was a lot of focus on the perimeter areas to look at ways to increase the heights of the berms, to fill in gaps of plantings that currently exist and replace some vegetation that, perhaps, did not thrive,” Director of Community Development Cathy Czerniak said.

Landscaping on the campus will be split into different zones with an open prairie on the west bordering Waukegan Road, which landscape architect Tom Oslund described as “a more native or savanna-like landscape,” gradually changing to more formal design near the new hospital building.

The parking lot will include planted bioswales and alternating pervious pavers to “pick up water and feed those bioswales” and a wet meadow that will serve as a stormwater channel, according to Oslund.

Other landscaping highlights include an open lawn lined by trees at the entrance, to be called The Common, which will lead to the new hospital’s main entrance. The Common will be about one and a half times the size of Market Square, Oslund said.

The promenade on the south side of a reflecting pool with a waterfall feature will be lined by a tree alley and shrubs. The reflecting pool itself will be rimmed by a “very intensive” edge planted with sedges and other aquatic plants, Oslund said.

Overall, plant material will be native-heavy, with such native species as black-eyed Susan, prairie blazing star, riverbank wild rye, purple coneflower, Indian grass, marsh phlox and sweet flag.

Tree species will include maple, hawthorn, oak, redbud, birch, serviceberry, hackberry, hickory and Eastern red cedar.

New signage for the hospital includes campus identification and wayfinding signs that are lower than what is currently in place, according to designer Jonathan Posnett.

Each of the three entrances to the campus, from Waukegan Road, Route 41 and Deerpath, will have a horizontal granite and metal identification sign and “an emergency sign appropriate to usage of each entrance,” Posnett.

The landscape and signage plans were developed, like the hospital design itself, through a collaborative effort by a team from Northwestern and the city’s Hospital Advisory Committee, which included nine residents with varying backgrounds, as well as members of city staff. The committee submitted a four-page evaluation report on the landscape and signage plans, which conform to the Master Plan approved by the City Council.

“There’s been a lot of careful thought put into this,” advisory committee member and resident Augie Ziccarelli said.

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