Oak Park, IL
The highly acclaimed redesigned Mills Park has become a central attraction in the Pleasant District of downtown Oak Park. This historic site is the location of Pleasant Home, an early seminal work of architecture of the Prairie School by George Maher. The redesigned park is an outdoor extension of Pleasant Home, and frequently used for large outdoor events, gatherings and festivals.
Altamanu Inc, working with the community, developed a master plan and then carried out design and construction observation for the transformation of the site into a contemporary park. The design incorporates restored and reinterpreted features of the historic parterre and juxtaposes them with contemporary features. The historic fence designed by Maher was restored; new entrances were created and linked by a sinuous curvilinear path system that leads visitors through the site. New spaces were created and others reinforced with understories of flowering trees. A new soft surface path undulates around the main meadow, providing a series of seating areas with views to the historic house.
A discovery area was created where children can search for petroglyphs carved into boulders that emerge from a landscape of green ferned mounds. They can sit in a ‘Lion Seat” carved from a tree stump and play in a new meadow of flowering Wild Petunia. The trunks of storm felled trees retained on site act as benches as well as investigatory exhibits. The discovery area also features a spiraling stone labrynth featuring a historic timeline of the site from prehistoric to contemporary times.