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Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, Rockford, IL

In honor of its 100th anniversary, the Rockford Park District in Rockford, IL, broke ground on the construction of the new Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens in August of 2009. Today, the conservatory is a glimmering jewel along the Rock River where locals and visitors can enjoy its exotic wildlife, streams and waterfalls, educational exhibits, and more.

As a greenhouse that now exemplifies natural beauty, the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens was constructed with heavy consideration for the environment. In line with that commitment to sustainability, terrazzo was chosen to guide visitors along the conservatory’s serpentine paths. As a result of these green efforts, the conservatory is now LEED Silver certified.

This naturalistic terrazzo project, designed by artist Linda Beaumont and implemented by Northern Illinois Terrazzo and Tile Co., won an Honorable Mention at the 2012 NTMA Honor Awards. In conceiving the design, Beaumont was inspired by the winding Rock River. The terrazzo floors now render a dazzling bird’s eye view of the river as it runs through Illinois and unites with other rivers.

Beaumont used the many distinct properties of terrazzo to execute her vision. She eloquently explained how she did so for a publication of the Rockford Park District and the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, titled In Full Bloom:

“The composition of the entire floor suggests water, with additional sinuous lines of river currents adding color and rhythm. The shimmer of the river’s surface is implied through the iridescent glass, mirror chips, and glitters that are seeded into the surface of the terrazzo, and within the floor are inclusions such as glass cane, beads, shells, and shards of colored glass. All together, the bits and pieces of glass bring a presence of the movement of the river, swirling and pulling all the different shapes through the Conservatory lobby, and into the magical world of exotic plants seen in the distance.”

There are cells of color, rings of change throughout the “River Within.” These, too, are of a special nature, and symbolize the many worlds that all whirl together as one within the community of Rockford.

Project details

  • Location: Rockford, IL
  • Project Name: River Within
  • Owner/Client: Rockford Park District
  • Terrazzo Contractor: Northern IL Terrazzo & Tile Co.
  • Artist: Linda Beaumont
  • Terrazzo Material Supplier: Terrazzo & Marble Supply Co.
    and Terroxy Resin Systems

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