Brooks McCormick Court

History/Overview

Originally the parking lot for the Goodman Theater (which was then located where the Modern Wing is today), this outdoor space at the corner of Monroe Street and Columbus Drive was first transformed into a landscaped area—the East Garden—in 1977. Designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill and funded by a gift of the Centennial Fund and numerous donations made in memory of Walter S. Frazier, the original garden stretched the entire block from Monroe to Jackson, encompassing Isamu Noguchi’s fountain Celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Founding of the Republic, which had just been dedicated the year previously. Features also included a bubbling fountain and the Chicago Stock Exchange Building’s salvaged entrance arch, a monumental architectural artifact that remains in place today.

In 2009, with the opening of the Modern Wing, the space was renamed Brooks McCormick Court. Still centered on the Adler and Sullivan–designed Stock Exchange arch, the garden was nestled into the northeast corner of the block, making room for the dedicated BP Student Entrance on Columbus Drive and creating a direct dialogue with Millennium Park’s Lurie Garden across Monroe Street. Filled with low-lying perennials on an ever-so gently mounded site, the garden has a less structured, organic feel, providing a soft and supportive foundation for the stately and intricately decorated arch.

Artwork

Chicago Stock Exchange Building Entrance Arch
(1893–94) by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan
The Art Institute boasts the world’s largest collections of architectural fragments from the renowned Chicago team of Adler and Sullivan. One of the highlights of the collection is this terracotta entrance arch from the Chicago Stock Exchange Building. Completed in 1894, the building stood at the southwest corner of LaSalle and Washington for nearly 80 years. In 1972, the architectural masterpiece was razed despite swarms of picketing demonstrators, scathing newspaper editorials, and the efforts of the Landmarks Preservation Council. Photographer and activist Richard Nickel made the ultimate sacrifice when he lost his life while attempting to save fragments of the Stock Exchange interior during the course of demolition. The Art Institute keeps the historic building alive with both the entrance arch installed in this public space and the permanent installation of the reconstructed Stock Exchange Trading Room in the museum’s east wing. The entrance arch, in particular, reflects Sullivan’s philosophy of “form follows function”: by spanning the building’s first two stories, the arch visually indicated the floors’ interrelated functions.


Plants and Trees

This garden is full of various perennials, including:
Salvia
Sedum
Geranium
Teucrium
Liatris
Anemone
Persicaria
Achillea
Limonium
Coreopsis
Stachys
Nepeta
Allium