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.