In a continued effort to improve the facilities supporting Ryan Field and provide a greater level of service to patrons, Northwestern University planned to reconstruct the deteriorating 884-stall parking lot located at the northwest corner of Central Street and Ashland Avenue. The reconstructed lot maximizes parking and improves traffic circulation utilizing an economical design which reduces material haul off. Additionally, the improvements address major stormwater management issues utilizing a combination of traditional and sustainable methods, such as detention and volume control facilities, permeable pavement, rain gardens, and native landscaping.

GHA provided schematic design concepts in the infancy stages of the design process, incorporating a combination of traditional and sustainable infrastructure improvements. As the parking lot is approximately 1,500’ long, operations for daily and special events, as well as future maintenance and snow removal, were of concern. Working with the University, GHA assessed the level of maintenance required by each sustainable application against the University’s long-term maintenance plan, and determine the most cost-effective techniques and layouts yielding the most desirable results.

The current Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Watershed Management Ordinance (WMO) requires both volume control and detention for the proposed improvements. The design of the volume control facility proved difficult due to the ground water table of the site being located only 6’ below grade. Accordingly, two separate vaults were installed. A larger vault was utilized to meet the detention requirements of both the MWRD and the City of Evanston, while a smaller, shallow vault was used in combination with permeable pavement to meet the MWRD volume control requirements. GHA worked closely with the University to develop a design solution that meets the needs of the University while satisfying the permitting requirements.

In conjunction with the parking lot improvements, the University wished to provide a central pedestrian crossing from the parking lot to the athletic campus across Ashland Avenue. GHA worked with the City of Evanston and the University to develop a pedestrian bumpout that includes advanced signage and high-visibility stripping at the mid-block crossing, allowing high volumes of pedestrian traffic to move from the lot to events.

GHA also provided construction observation services for the project. Our team met regularly with both the contractor and the University to ensure project deadlines, and the University’s high standard of care, were met. This approximately $6 million project was constructed in the summer of 2016.