Asian Art Gallery Gardens


2015 Jens Jensen Award


Lake County, IL


2.25 Acres


Private Owner



Landscape Architects

Project Details

Over several decades, an American collector assembled an outstanding collection of Asian artifacts, displayed in and around his residence. As the collection grew and space in the original garden became limited, Craig Bergmann Landscape Design encouraged the collector to commission a building and additional gardens within a 2.25-acre area for better display and continued scholarly research.

Today, two distinct gardens adjacent to a new museum building function as outdoor galleries that exhibit ancient Asian sculpture. The overall landscape strikes a careful, yet relaxed balance between Asian and Midwestern aesthetics, honoring both in simplicity, material selections, and style.

To the west of the gallery, a serene, geometric Zen-inspired garden extends exhibit space from the gallery’s west courtyard out into the landscape. Originally a rough clearing with few trees, the new garden creates a wide-open space that features especially large pieces. The main design element—a manipulated turf lawn with angular path—is distinctly Asian. It dissolves into the wilder, Midwestern woods enclosing it with a planting design that transitions from highly cultivated lawn into a rough turf of Prairie Dropseed and then eventually into native grasses and wildflowers. The plantings create a visually compelling room of scale, texture, color, and seasonal change that is experienced from within the gallery as well as outside.

The Gallery Garden, located to the south of the gallery, is comprised of the gallery entrance, islands of open space where sculpture is exhibited, and a pathway network that runs through the property. For many decades before this project, this area was bare of understory plantings and was comprised of 100-year-old oak and hickory trees within lawn. To create flexible, interesting settings for the collector’s sculpture in this area and mitigate the impact of the building, the landscape architect designed a series of island beds of richly layered perennial and woody plants that restore a naturalized environment to the site. These planted areas are connected by swaths of open lawn throughout the garden.

The Gallery Garden has a casual, dynamic, and informal feel in comparison to the Zen Garden’s formal stability. This gives the curator the flexibility to change or add to what is exhibited as the collection grows.

Project Team

Project Team: Advanced Sprinkler Systems; Altounian Construction; Booth Hansen; Buss Landscape Company; GRO Horticultural Enterprises

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