By: Myrna Coronado-Brookover
September 22, 2021
Imagine a tranquil, sunny courtyard steps away from your desk, a place to pause for a breath of fresh air, to get a little work done or even hold an event. The space is bright, nature-filled, and a venue of peace in the middle of Downtown Chicago. This is what I envisioned for 77 West Wacker after ownership purchased the adjoined low-rise and I discovered a bare-bones outdoor space just waiting to be transformed. I had the great honor of unveiling this new and improved space on Sept. 15, when tenants, artists, horticulturalists and Transwestern team members gathered in the sunshine to take in the landscaped, ivy-clad courtyard complete with beehive boxes, a blossom-filled pollinator garden and a striking, colorful mosaic wall.
Much like a mosaic, this completed outdoor space is the result of many pieces and several talented people collaborating to achieve a shared goal. After the initial cleanup of the courtyard, we partnered with local horticulturalists Liz Vogul and Annamarie Leon to landscape the space into a textural, naturalistic garden that provides a site in which pollinators, bees and migrating birds can forage. In fact, all the native pruning and sticks from the bare-bones site remain as compost, which is a naturalistic way of treating decomposition. QR codes are installed throughout the garden so that tenants and guests can identify each plant and its environmental niche.
We didn’t stop there. I knew I wanted large-scale artwork in the courtyard. Through our partnership with Annamarie and Liz, I connected with The Chicago Mosaic School, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the art of mosaic. But then, through a wonderful coincidence, I met local artist Benjamin Durst, and after speaking with him, I knew that he should design a mosaic wall for us. Ben collaborated with The Chicago Mosaic School, who translated Ben’s designs into a large-scale mosaic, and JSL labor assisted with the installation. The result is an intricate, abstract piece aptly named “Peaceful Garden.”
Benjamin is an artist with autism who found his artistic voice through the multisensory character of mosaicism. His design is a breathtaking, pertinent representation of what I want tenants to feel while enjoying the garden. I am incredibly grateful to have met Benjamin, to have had the opportunity to see the world through his eyes and to give that gift to our tenants at 77 West Wacker for years to come.
As a property manager, I must pay extraordinary attention to every detail. This experience has reinforced for me that the details really do matter. As I watched this space come to life, I was reminded that every project can be an opportunity to welcome new points of view, uncover unique talents, and work together to achieve something none of us could accomplish alone.
Myrna Coronado-Brookover is Senior Vice President of Asset Services and is based in Transwestern’s Chicago office.
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