Oakbrook Center first opened its doors in 1962 and quickly became a regional shopping destination for the Chicago metropolitan area. The mall, located in a first ring suburb of Chicago called Oak Brook, offered a unique shopping experience in an outdoor, open-air environment. Original designs for the mall played on this idea by conceptualizing the mall as a garden, with water features within the garden a primary component of the experience of the place.
Oakbrook is the second-largest retail destination in the Chicago area, so it was an easy decision for Chicago-based development company General Growth Properties to invest in the redesign of the shopping center. In 2011, GGP engaged Omniplan Architects and Studio Outside in that task: to take the strong points of the existing shopping center and re-envision them through total renovation of the exterior space.
The studio team used an elegant palette of materials to revitalize and upgrade the aging facility while using many of the existing large specimen trees as focal points of the landscape design. The largest task that faced the design team was to re-imagine the shopping center’s well-known water features. Studio Outside began the large task by conceptualizing 5 new fountains which would run year-round for the mall. Fountain Source, a California-based fountain design firm, helped the team understand the powthe intricacies of water technology and engineering.
At the heart of the mall is perhaps the renovation project’s most celebrated amenity, the Vortex Fountain. The large, central fountain consists of a series of concentric spirals that work in harmony with water jets, lighting, and seating to create an incredible public space and focal point for the entire project. A large, central fountain had always existed in its space, but it’s tired 1960’s design was one-dimensional and did not excite shoppers.