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Garden Roof, City Hall, Chicago, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America"

A work made of chromogenic print.

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  • A work made of chromogenic print.


May 2005


Joel Sternfeld
American, born 1944

About this artwork


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Joel Sternfeld


Garden Roof, City Hall, Chicago, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America"


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 2005


Chromogenic print


No markings recto or verso Hundreds of deaths occurred in Chicago in the 1990s because of heat waves. In response, the city of Chicago, in conjunction with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, initiated the City Hall Rooftop Garden Pilot Project, part of the Urban Heat Island Initiative. Green roofs help minimize urban heat effect, which occurs in metropolitan areas when the sun bakes pavement and roof surfaces, raising temperatures to levels much higher than those of land surfaces in the countryside. A conventional rooftop can reach 140 degrees in summer, but when covered with a layer of soil and planted, it will tend to stay around 80 degrees, thus reducing the surrounding air temperature and the need for air conditioning within the building. Numerous other benefits come from planted rooftops. They absorb up to fifty percent of the rain that falls on them, reducing the surge of water that can overload urban sewer systems during heavy downpours. They protect the underlying roof’s waterproofing layer from sun exposure, helping it to last forty or fifty years instead of the standard twenty. Over one hundred building projects are now underway in the city, incorporating one million square feet of green roof. They are part of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s plan to transform Chicago into one of the greenest cities in the world. From the portfolio, Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America, 1982–2005


Image: 26.5 × 33.2 cm (10 7/16 × 13 1/8 in.); Paper: 27.9 × 35.5 cm (11 × 14 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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