Cudahy Gardens


The Museum grounds were redesigned in conjunction with the Quadracci Pavilion, with a network of gardens, plazas, and fountains created by landscape architect Dan Kiley (1912–2004). The geometric patterns of Kiley’s Cudahy Garden work well to integrate the site as a whole, reflecting the formal articulation of Eero Saarinen’s modernist War Memorial Center and counterbalancing Santiago Calatrava’s more organic but recurring patterns—the Quadracci Pavilion beside the garden, and the bridge and brise soleil soaring above it.

The rectangular Cudahy Gardens site, 600 feet long and 100 feet wide, parallels the pavilion. A series of 10-foot-tall hedgerows and a fountain with a solid, 4-foot-high curtain of water divide the garden into ten sloping lawns. Plazas at each end feature monumental fountains that spray water 35 feet in the air. The gardens are named for philanthropist Michael Cudahy, whose donation made the landscape design possible.

Dan Kiley was known for his formal geometric approach to landscape architecture. His modernist designs typically used lawns, tree-lined walkways, small groves, and ribbons of water or pavement, set in repeated patterns. He was inspired by formal European gardens, and believed that geometry was an inherent aspect of human nature. He collaborated with many modernist architects—including Eero Saarinen.