The Chicago Botanic Garden and Bath Complex is a “bridge” that leads us from the center of the city Chicago straight into the misty Michigan Lake. It is a transition from the busy, physically functional city that frames our everyday acquainted experiences, where exploring is not contingent upon understanding, to a series of displays of different conditioned baths, vegetation, and spaces, where creates multitude of experiences that activate all human senses without distraction and disruption. People are encouraged to learn, feel and think while traveling through this journey of senses and interacting with the surroundings.
In the Chicago Botanic Garden and Bath Complex, people are able to see the passing time through the changes of light and shadow, vegetation growth and the material age. The sounds of the traffic on Lake Shore Drive slowly replaced by the sounds of water waves and wind blowing through the trees as one goes further into the lake. The different indoor, semi-outdoor and outdoor conditions along with the themed baths create a peculiar experience of temperature and moisture change through out the complex. A variety of activities are abled in the complex besides bathing, such as vegetation studies, lake ecology studies, sketching etc.
When viewing from above, the complex appears to look like an extension of the Millennium Park. The bathing area that is covered by the garden above goes up and down, echoes the skyline of Chicago. A monumental esthetic is depicted by the regular geometrical elements and the amount of stairs that are used in the space. The densely used stairs are also decretive and had became to a language of its own. The idea of sustainability was considered in the design in order to support the complex. Bath water that is used in the building is heated by the geothermal energy. The semi-outdoor spaces with the glass roofs that open allow natural ventilation and invite rain water into the space for garden irrigation. The “hanging garden” above the bath is also bees and butterflies friendly.