Abraham Lincoln Elementary School
Public Work – Oak Park, Illinois

Lincoln Elementary was looking for a revamped design for their courtyard to use as an outdoor space for learning, an area for teachers to take a break, as well as a visual garden from inside the classrooms. The existing pond was beloved by students but had declined over the years.  Incorporating a new water feature was central to the new layouts.  Different ecosystems created by the plants and the water feature provide ample opportunities for exploration. The space encourages kids to learn about native and adaptive native plant material to the Midwest and northern Illinois as well as insects and bugs that may be attracted to the varying ecosystems. The vegetable gardens inspire interest in agriculture and urban farming, learning about where food comes from, healthy eating, as well as the importance of reusing and recycling organic waste to make compost for the garden. Storm water management also plays a vital educational role by demonstrating how all runoff water is kept on site by utilizing rain gardens, permeable surfaces, and planting beds. Bird houses and art walls liven up the space and encourage community involvement through volunteers donating, building, or auctioning art for the garden.