October 4, 2022
Epstein’s Kelsey Wuthrich, Civil Project Engineer, attended the dedication of the Talcott Fine Arts & Museum Academy’s new playlot last month to recognize the efforts of everyone involved in getting the project funded and completed. The team included Alderman Daniel La Spata, Chicago Public Schools, State Representative Delia Catalina Ramirez, and the technical project team, Burhani Design Architects and Juli Ordower Landscape Architecture. Epstein's Greg Osborne, Project Manager, received a plaque of recognition at the event. Teachers and students were all very excited for their new play areas! We are proud to be an integral part of re-building and strengthening our local communities.
Chicago Public School’s Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy, the first and only museum school in the Chicago metropolitan area, partners with the Art Institute, the Field Museum, and the National Museum of Mexican Art to provide students unique opportunities at these world-class institutions. The school was in need of an updated outdoor space to support them.
Talcott’s existing outdoor play lot consisted of a grassy play field, a playground, and an asphalt track and sport court area. The field had not held up well to heavy usage, the playground was outdated, and the track and sport court had limited play options. Epstein worked with Burhani Design Architects, who helped explore several design concepts. After much discussion with Talcott staff, the team developed a concept that kept the overall form of the original site, but greatly improved usability. The grass field was replaced with turn striped for a combination baseball/soccer field. The shape of the playground area remained the same, but new equipment and new pavement coloring were added around the area. Modifications to the track and sport court added a new combination volleyball court and basketball half court, and custom seating with planters for a new social space.
One of the most significant new additions was a dedicated community garden area with raised planters and seating. Due to Talcott’s hands-on learning style, the teachers strongly desired to create an outdoor classroom, as well as an opportunity for community involvement. The form of this space was determined with input from a committee of interested teachers and design support from Burhani Design Architects. The finished product was a set of curved planters that students could wander through with adjacent bench seating.
Epstein served as the Civil Engineer of Record. In the application of concept design to the site, several challenges emerged. One such issue was stormwater management. As most of the site was being disturbed, the city stormwater department required detention included in the design. Epstein chose to utilize stone void storage underneath the permeable artificial turf field. The team did not have enough information from the survey to confirm the feasibility of the design and design the outlet piping of the underground storm system. Epstein had sewer televising performed, which also had the advantage of evaluating the condition of the existing system. From the television results, Epstein decided to proceed with the detention under the field, and reuse much of the existing storm sewer, which was in good condition.