Arthington Mall renovations feature green infrastructure improvements, new sculpture

The newly renovated Arthington Mall near the College of Nursing. (Joshua Clark/University of Illinois Chicago)

UIC’s Arthington Mall, one of the most heavily traveled pedestrian corridors on the west side of campus, recently was renovated to include a variety of green infrastructure improvements, as well as a new sculpture, “Tussle” by Ted Sitting Crow Garner.

“Tussle” by Ted Sitting Crow Garner

“We’ve created this preeminent outdoor space, we’ve addressed UIC’s Climate Commitments and we’ve added a new piece of art to UIC’s exterior artwork collection, so all three of these things make it a special space,” said David Taeyaerts, associate vice chancellor for planning, sustainability and project management and campus architect. “People are out there enjoying the space, and it’s really nice to see it activated.”

Arthington Mall, which is located outside Student Center West, is an approximately 37,000-square-foot open space for UIC students, employees and campus visitors. It also serves as a pathway to UIC’s seven health sciences colleges and health care facilities in the Illinois Medical District. 

The site was identified in the 2018 UIC Master Plan Update as an open space improvement project because of its deteriorated pavement and history of flooding during heavy rains.

“It was falling into a state of disrepair and had some issues each time it rained with stormwater pooling,” Taeyaerts said. “The real goal was to create a signature space on west campus that everybody uses where you want to linger and not just pass through.”

Improvements to the Arthington Mall area include porous pavement walkways; rain gardens and bioretention areas; native and drought-tolerant landscaping; updated seating; pedestrian safety improvements; permeable paving and renovation of the parking lot next to Arthington Mall, and more.

The plans for the project also supported UIC’s Climate Commitments, which include goals to become a carbon neutral, zero waste, net zero water and biodiverse campus.

“The Arthington Mall project is a tangible example of how the Climate Action Implementation Plan and the Campus Master Plan can be aligned to achieve our goals of being a net zero water and biodiverse campus while enhancing identity, demonstrating our campus is Chicago, and transforming UIC,” said Cynthia Klein-Banai, assistant vice chancellor and director of sustainability.

The Greater Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation contributed to the funding of the project, Klein-Banai said.

“This funding supported the integration of stormwater retention infrastructure to keep rainfall out of the stormwater system and maintains the water quality of the rivers of Chicago and Lake Michigan,” she said.

UIC also installed a new sculpture in front of Student Center West: “Tussle” by Ted Sitting Crow Garner, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who studied Native American studies at UIC in the 1970s. UIC procured the artwork with an award from the University of Illinois President’s Chester Fund.

“Tussle is a big, bright, red-orange abstraction of welded steel. With its long tubes extending to meet in an imperfect point, Tussle looks like the great wooden masks of birds carved by Northwest Coast artists that Garner was surrounded by as a child,” said Elise Archias, associate professor of art history and chair of UIC’s Fine Arts Review Committee. Read more about the sculpture here.

“We’re really pleased with it. It’s really striking when you walk past it,” Taeyaerts added.

See a virtual tour of Arthington Mall here.

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