Thomas J. Waters Elementary School

Chicago, Illinois

Working with Chicago Public Schools, the local alderman, school leaders, stakeholders, and neighborhood community groups, Lakota prepared an overall site and landscape design for a new and sustainable outdoor learning environment at Waters School. Special challenges involved transforming the existing site, which was covered mostly with impervious asphalt surface, while also preserving the existing community gardens at the south end of the school. The team emphasized use of Low Impact Design technologies, such as permeable paving, rain barrels, and native bioswales to improve stormwater quality in compliance with LEED certification standards and Chicago’s new stormwater ordinance. Additionally, the design includes ecological education elements, recycled play field surfaces, local materials, recycling stations, and native plantings to create a model urban school campus based on the standards of environmental sustainability.

The Waters School campus design project was recognized with a Merit Award by the Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2013.