Foster Avenue Improvements to Enhance North Park University

Foster Avenue streetscape rendering
Among the campus enhancements under construction is this distinctive sign wall, designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects, at the corner of Foster and Kedzie avenues.

New University sign wall significant part of overall streetscape project

CHICAGO (November 30, 2012) — If all goes according to plan, North Park University's appearance along Foster Avenue will be greatly improved in less than a year. The City of Chicago's streetscape project, along Foster from the North Channel west to Kimball Avenue, will include new sidewalks, light poles, and plantings. North Park campus enhancements will complement the City's work, and include a new University sign wall at the corner of Foster and Kedzie avenues, an articulation of masonry pylons connected by wrought iron fencing along the campus frontage, plus improvements to the gates in front of Old Main.

Some improvements were started this month, and others will follow next year. "These improvements will significantly enhance our campus, especially the new sign wall at the corner intersection marking North Park's presence in the neighborhood," said Dr. David Parkyn, University president. "In addition, we're very pleased about the many street-side improvements that the city is planning to begin next spring."

The University has been in discussions with the City of Chicago for several years about this project, said Carl Balsam, North Park University executive vice president and chief financial officer. The city's project is funded by federal monies appropriated some time ago, augmented by additional City of Chicago funds. The University will fund its enhancements.

To complete the project adequately, the University granted a permanent two-foot easement on its property and an additional temporary two-foot construction easement, Balsam said. Nearly all of the plantings along the campus frontage on Foster Avenue will be removed, and in most cases, these were aging shrubs and bushes that needed to be replaced, he said. "Our landscape architects (Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects) had recommended for some time that North Park refresh its campus frontage and create a more compelling and dramatic presentation to the community. The city streetscape project presented that opportunity," Balsam said.

A large, new masonry sign wall to identify the University is now under construction at the corner of Kedzie and Foster avenues. Behind it, the plaza will be renewed and provide a park-like setting at the entry to the gymnasium. Along with corner improvements, masonry pylons with decorative finials connected by the fencing will provide the University with a distinctive border along Foster Avenue. Entry gates in front of Old Main are being reconstructed and will include patina-finished and distinctive letters "North Park University" attached to black wrought iron. Plantings will be enhanced and replaced behind the frontage fencing.

The University hopes to complete the sign wall and pylons before harsh winter weather arrives. The City of Chicago plans to begin work to replace sidewalks, light poles, and plantings in April or May 2013, Balsam said. 

"It is our hope that we will be able to coordinate the completion of our fencing and plantings with their sidewalk work in front of the campus," he said. "If all goes well, the whole project from Kedzie to Kimball should be completed by the time students return for the fall semester 2013."

Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.

Next Steps

Learn about another significant building project underway at North Park University: the Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life.