Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory Palm House has been rebuilt to its iconic status among historic public conservatories. From the 1960s to the early 1990s the 1.8-acre Conservatory suffered from deferred maintenance and was failing. What Jens Jensen had called his “landscape art under glass” was
threatened. This trend has now been reversed. In 1905, master landscape architect Jens Jensen drew up plans for a domelike steel and wood Palm House conservatory central feature, which he envisioned would “remind visitors of giant Midwestern haystacks.” One of the first conservatories to display plants in a natural setting instead of in pots on benches, the Conservatory was innovative both inside and out.
The entire concept was considered such a novelty that when construction was completed in 1907, thousands of visitors a day visited the facility, as much in awe of the structure as of the plants. The planting design was so effective that visitors actually thought that the building had been built around an already existing landscape.