Mayor Daley's 2008 Landscape Award Winner

Northern Trust headquarters building

Situated in the heart of the Loop, the Northern Trust Corporate Headquarters Plaza located at the northeast corner of Wells and Monroe has been part of the city's landscape since 1965. Surrounded by high-rise buildings and just feet away from the L tracks, iron gates stand open inviting people to cut the corner along slate paths beneath three-story Honeylocust trees. One of the maintenance challenges is dealing effectively with the shade created by the the Honeylocust and surrounding buildings. Plantings of Taxus, Buxus, Azalea, Rhododendron, Kerria and Hydrangea are perfectly suited for the conditions. Another challenge is the scheduling of work. All work must be done before 8:00 a.m. on weekdays or on weekends, so it is not to disrupt banking activities.

The maintenance contract requires a high degree of hand labor and constant attention to detail. The landscape is highly visible both from the ground and windows above. Beds are detailed and weeded on a weekly basis. Perennials are deadheaded and shrubs are hand pruned to maintain a neat and uniform appearance. Most of the plantings are hand watered twice weekly and moisture levels are monitored throughout the season. In the Spring, all beds are replenished with hardwood mulch. This not only provides a clean and aesthetically attractive appearance but also helps retain moisture in the raised plaza beds. Continuous color throughout the season is obtained through rotation planting.

Thousands of tulips welcome spring and a mixture of caladiums, dragon wing begonia, new guinea impatiens and tropicals provide the summer color. The 2nd floor window ledges on Wells, Monroe and LaSalle Streets are lined with 88 large stainless steel window boxes filled with red, white and blue cascading petunias. Mums and ornamental kale replace the annuals in the fall. In November, the north planter south fountain bed are decorated with ballad and burlapped evergreens and white lights for the holidays.

Northern Trust has always prided itself on its image of the building and landscape. The colors and the varieties used in the seasonal rotations are changed yearly to keep the image fresh. This beautiful landscape environment where the city noise seems muted is a place where people stop to relax on wooden benches with their morning papers and coffee, work on laptops and cell phones, eat lunch or simply catch their breath. The plaza is truely a place of refuge in this corridor of concrete and steel.


“The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, the next best time is today.”

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