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Posted August 14, 2012

Poster helps to rebuild

We had one hellacious hailstorm in Chicago on July 1 of 2011; if you were here, you would definitely remember it. What you may have missed, however, is the impact the storm had on one of Chicago’s most treasured landmarks, the Garfield Park Conservatory. Designed by famed landscape architect Jens Jensen in the early 1900s, the Conservatory dazzles with its gorgeous glass-paneled roofs. On the morning of July 2, Conservatory workers found much of that glass in shards, spread everywhere, with thousands of plants newly exposed to the elements and at risk.


The famed Fern Room, with plants over 100 years old, became a fundraising focal point. Estimated costs for all recovery efforts neared $2 million. Massive fundraising efforts began immediately and have continued over the past year.

As repairs neared completion, Chicago Park District historian; Julia Bachrach saw an opportunity to help raise remaining funds — and awareness of both the Fern Room and Jens Jensen — through poster sales. (We had previously worked with Julia on a book celebrating the Conservatory’s centennial.)

Julia enlisted Hedrich Blessing, the nation’s premiere architectural photography firm based here in Chicago, to photograph the Fern Room. Then she asked Jell to design a limited-edition, frame-worthy poster based on one of the new Hedrich Blessing photos. We developed several concepts and arranged a print run for sale at the Grant Park Conservatory gift shop.

If you’ve never visited the Garfield Park Conservatory, you’re missing out. It’s an extraordinary example of Jens Jensen’s work and Chicago’s love affair with both architecture and nature. And it has bounced back from a very expensive natural disaster.

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