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Elevated Design

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Jul 26, 2018
University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA

The University of Chicago has attained worldwide prominence since its incorporation almost 130 years ago, and it is known for its “architectural highlights, unique traditions and notable alumni”—97 Nobel laureates are affiliated with the institution.1 The university campus also “features a number of works by famous architects and beautiful hidden spots.”When a storied institution like this envisions creating an original landscape installation, the sky is the limit—or rather, the canvas.

The university’s Associate Director for Campus Environment, Richard Bumstead, has been the facility’s landscape architect for 35 years. In 2017, Bumstead addressed an open space in the Crerar Science Quadrangle, which is a “hub” on Campus West near the very heart of the campus. He was inspired to create something spectacular that would cause passersby to take pause and capture a moment of wonder. Bumstead imagined two immense concentric circles of light suspended high above the ground, as if hovering overhead. His vision was lofty, and the components needed to make it work weren’t sitting on a shelf in a manufacturer’s warehouse waiting to be ordered from a spec sheet.

To get this ambitious light project off the design page and into the sky it was paramount that the University of Chicago call on trusted and dependable partners. Bumstead and his colleague, Kathleen Golomb, Project Manager – Landscape Design, entrusted Maglin Site Furniture and Jacobs/Ryan Associates to be their collaborative project partners. Both companies had worked with the university in the past and established a relationship noted for reliability and creativity.

At Maglin Site Furniture, the Modified and Original Products (Custom) division worked closely with the half dozen service providers who contributed to the project over its eight-month span. Coordinated communication—including site visits, supplier meetings, daily email updates, and regular phone calls—ensured that Maglin completed this very detailed and collaborative driven project on time and within budget.

Maglin Site Furniture’s Product Manager, Kelly Nettleton, confirmed that solid business relationships were key to bringing Bumstead’s vision to fruition. Maglin not only strategized internally with their design, engineering, purchasing, and assembly departments, but externally with the University of Chicago, as well as the project’s engineers, Primera Engineers, Ltd.; architects, Jacobs/Ryan; general and electrical contractors, Atrium Inc.; and lighting manufacturer, iLight Technologies.

On June 21, 2018, the University of Chicago and Maglin Site Furniture hosted an illumination ceremony at the campus. Guests enjoyed tours of the grounds, met representatives from the organizations that worked on the project, and got to marvel at the centerpiece of the event—the original artistic light installation.  Institutions of higher learning exist to help knowledge seekers expand their minds and build the foundation towards careers that can greatly benefit our society. The inspiring light installation is an enduring reminder to University of Chicago scholars, faculty, staff, and visitors to cultivate bold ideas, build solid partnerships, and reach for new heights.

Professional Photography: Kate Joyce Studio