Solarise: Portal | Garfield Park Conservatory

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Solarise: A Sea of All Colors, 2015

The Garfield Park Conservatory is lauded as one of the great architectural masterpieces in Chicago. Completed in 1907 by the famed landscaped architect Jens Jenson this revolutionary building opened as the largest conservatory in the world. The glass structure contains distinct gardens connected by a series of contiguous pathways runnning throughout the space. Majestic gardens present both contemporary and prehistoric plants in this vibrant environment. In 2011, a storm caused significant damaged to the glass building and the plants within the conservatory.

As part of an effort to raise awareness and draw public attention to the conservatory and rehabilitation efforts, Luftwerk was commissioned to create a series of year-long installations throughout the conservatory. Solarise: A Sea of All Colors contained five distinct installations; each in a different garden, developed with a distinct point of view to frame, highlight, and interpret important elements of the garden.


Located in the entrance of the conservatory, Portal was situated to frame the Spring Song Waterfall in the conservatory’s legendary Fern Room—the room located directly behind the entrance. Hovering above the reflection pool, the series of mirrored frames appeared to nestle together when viewed from the front. This extended portal reflected the surrounded plants, the reflecting pool beneath, and the glass structure of the conservatory through a new, abstracted and fragmented perspective.

Architectural Record
CS Modern Interiors
New Media Caucus—College Art Association
Condé Nast Traveler
Architect Magazine
The Architect’s Newspaper
Time Out Chicago
Chicago Reader | People Issue 2015
The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studio


Garfield Park Conservatory
Navillus Woodworks
John Faier, Peter Tsai
Chicago Park District

Materials: Aluminum composite panels

Size: 20’ x 8’ 20’