Plant Diversity in the Urban Forest

accolade elm_Lou malnati

Plant diversity is not just for the wide open prairie or local forest preserve. Bringing a variety of tree species to streetscapes, parking lot and residential landscapes creates a diverse urban forest fabric. This provides a more resilient ecosystem that can withstand pressures when plant disease, insect pests or extreme weather comes to town.  Chestnut Blight, Dutch Elm Disease and now Emerald Ash Borer have proved that monoculture plantings can be expensive and dangerous when they fail. To diversify the landscape plantings in your part of the city, a good rule of thumb is the 30/20/10 rule: In any community, no more than 30… Find Out More Details…

Community Playground Build

Cultural center playground

A new playground was inaugurated this summer at the Slovenian Cultural Center in Lemont, IL. Maria Sovan and Upland Design volunteered our playground expertise to assist the Cultural Center’s  play space renovation.  Located at the communities picnic grounds, the playground and its surroundings are a popular place where generations of Slovenians from the Chicagoland area celebrate their heritage and cultural traditions. Maria is an active member in the Slovenian community and understood the importance of creating a lasting space. The Center leaders and volunteers worked tirelessly to raise money for equipment and many of the materials. Concrete and engineered wood fiber were donated by local… Find Out More Details…

Go Outside: It’s Better for Your Health

Basketball Court

It’s not a new idea that going outside can improve your cognitive, social and physical well-being, but new research is coming out nearly every day to keep people moving in the right direction. This idea that nature can help us be happier, healthier people is not just for kids though the movement may have started to stop kids from experiencing a “nature-deficit disorder.”  Last Child in the Woods  refreshed the idea and started the movement to get kids back into nature and are pushing to get people out in trails and parks instead of prescribing pills, but the young are… Find Out More Details…

Grant Funding Priorities Pending Approval


The Illinois Park and Recreational Facility Construction Act of 2009 may receive an update in 2015. House Bill 3457 passed both the House and Senate and has been sent to Governor Rauner for review.  The text additions will give priority funding to playground projects that reduce physical barriers to handicapped individuals. This will serve as an incentive to further improve accessible opportunities in Illinois parks and recreation areas. Currently the federal Americans with Disability Act and the Illinois Accessibility Code provide requirements for minimum accommodations on public projects, but this will provide funding directed at meeting the laws and guidelines.… Find Out More Details…

New Playgrounds Open in Geneva

Weaver Park

Upland Design is excited to see the opening of Weaver and Terney Park Playgrounds which opened in time for Memorial Day as well as Wheeler Park which opened this past week. These playgrounds exhibit the nine key elements of Dynamic Play: moving parts, space, diversity, circuits, seating, safety, nature, social inclusion and imagination, which have become the rationale behind all our playground designs. Weaver Park Playground features a nature themed play structure designed to include a diversity of play events to keep kids interested.  A rock, slide and climber circuit creates one of many paths of movement for kids to explore while nearby,… Find Out More Details…

New Nature Play Area at Lake Katherine


With the help of many volunteers and a KABOOM! Grant, Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens is opening a new nature based play area. The play area is part of the Children’s Forest, a children centered area designated in the 2012 Master Plan completed for Lake Katherine by Upland Design. The Children’s Forest is set to be a place for kids to explore and experience nature in a fun and exciting way. Check out more about the opening and hear from the Director Gareth Blakesly in the Chicago Tribune article.

Forest Preserves of Cook County Centennial Celebration

FPCC logo

The Forest Preserves of Cook County are celebrating 100 years of service with great events throughout the year. Upland Design was pleased to be part of the celebration by attending the Centennial Symposium. The panel discussion reflected on topics highlighting the rich history of influential leaders, conservation efforts, social perspectives, and diverse ecosystems that the forest preserves have to offer. Wait, there is more…. Become a part of this year-long celebration! Visit for upcoming events and programs.

Expanding our Knowledge

At Upland Design, keeping our staff up to date on the latest standards and guidelines is part of our office philosophy. Through continuing education and certification, our staff can create projects that are more thoughtful as well as current with the latest safety, sustainability and design standards.  In the end, we believe this helps us provide better solutions for our clients. We would like to congratulate our recent certifications : Maria Sovan passed the  LEED AP Building Design + Construction exam. Michelle Kelly passed the LEED Green Associate exam. Monica Goshorn-Maroney is the newest member of our staff to become… Find Out More Details…

Chicago’s Newest Dog Park begins Construction

Park 556

The Logan Square neighborhood is getting a new Dog Friendly Area! Construction started last week at Park 556 at Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue to revamp the site. The site formerly owned by Chicago Department of Transportation was transferred to the Chicago Park District with the intent of becoming Logan Square’s first dog park. Upland Design assisted the community and Park District to introduce a design that includes a fully fenced site, a small and large dog area, plenty of seating, drinking fountain and new shade trees. Dogs and owners alike will find the park ready for use in mid-summer… Find Out More Details…