Fate of the Walkways
Over a six-year period ending in 1999 the walkways were removed to create a greener, more welcoming campus environment. Circle Forum and the Great Court were dismantled at the same time. This was a highly controversial project which resulted in the elimination of significant elements of the Netsch design.
As with Circle Forum and the Great Court, maintenance of the walkways was difficult, especially in winter, when snow had to be removed from exposed surfaces and the stairways leading up to them. Netsch had designed the steps with heating elements to melt the snow, but the transformers failed and were never replaced. Salt, in conjunction with the annual freeze and thaw cycles, gradually caused the concrete stairways to crack and deteriorate, seriously limiting access and use.
Granite damaged during demolition was donated to the city of Chicago, which used it to build an artificial reef at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive. Today 37 percent of the campus is devoted to green space, which includes more than 5,000 deciduous and evergreen trees.