Location: Shabbona, IL
Project Scope: Conceptual Landscape Design, Landscape Planting Plans, Construction Documents
Building Architect: Hagney Architects
Landscape Architect: ecology + vision, llc
Website: Resource Bank

Resource Bank has established itself as a premier local banking institution within DeKalb County since its founding in 1901. They firmly believe that the relationship between a bank and its clients should be based on a mutual trust; something that will last for years and benefit local communities for a lifetime. With that in mind, their new Shabbona branch needed to be much more than a convenient place for local residents to do their banking…it needed to be a statement about Resource Bank’s belief in community and their determination to build on DeKalb County’s amazing history in truly innovative ways.ecology + vision, llc (ecology) developed a landscape design that enhances the architect’s vision of a strong rural connection by utilizing native landscaping with a strong edge component and a semi-formal planting structure near the building, filtering to an informal prairie landscape throughout large open portions of the site.


The project architect and owner envisioned a building design that would consider the rich agricultural heritage and background of the Shabbona community. The resulting architectural design represents a contemporary farmhouse vernacular, and to further the local connection, included the integration and restoration of a local one-room schoolhouse to serve as a community center.Many site challenges were addressed through the landscape design, such as utilizing a dry-lain natural stone retaining wall to make up for a significant difference in grade between the new bank structure and the one-room school house. ecology also had to address the original entrance to the schoolhouse because the original entrance is not ADA compliant. The new ADA compliant entrance to the community center was placed within a central “breezeway” that connected the bank facility to the restored schoolhouse, this challenged us to pay visual homage to the original entry with some sort of representative “walkway” without making it appear as an active entrance to the building. This was accomplished by creating a walkway out of natural flagstone that ran from the parking lot to the original school house entrance, so that it was a distinctively different surface than the other concrete sidewalks on site. The additional placement of two small white picket fence sections with a locked gate at the parking lot end of the walkway complemented the building’s architecture, yet provided a necessary function in keeping visitors from trying to access the original school entrance.

In addition to complementing the architecture of the building and representing DeKalb County’s history through the integration of native landscaping, it was also important to Resource Bank that the tradition of education continue at the former schoolhouse. The landscape plan is organized in a way that species can be labeled in the field to accommodate learning opportunities for local school groups. To further this mission, ecology also incorporated bioswale and rain garden features into the design so that lessons in stormwater management can be taught to visitors.

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