Located at the north end of the Chicago Botanic Garden's property, the lawn is lush and lovely, of a piece with the rest of the garden's nearly 400 acres just east of U.S. Route 41 in Glencoe. Surrounding the grassy hills is an area with wooden climbing and hiding places and a subtly cushioned floor beneath the wood chips. A shallow circular stream, with a smooth bottom and a narrow channel made from rocks above, creates a "fingers and toes water feature," said Prendergast.
But that's just the front lawn. The centerpiece of the new campus is the new building, the Learning Center, almost 27,000 square feet of interior space, most in classrooms lining a central hallway. The structure takes the place of long-standing temporary buildings the garden had been using for its education programs.
Those programs range from adult yoga and a cooking class about fermentation and bone broth down to a new preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.
Prendergrast doesn't think the Learning Center will dramatically increase usage of the garden's programs, most grouped under the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School heading. Already about 125,000 people annually take advantage of some 1,500 classes, camps, talks, concerts and other events.