Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Water Feature

Dual purpose retaining wall and waterfall

The new 470,000 square foot Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital will be opening its doors to patients later this year.  Unlike most hospitals, Northwestern is situated on over 120 landscaped acres with hiking and biking trails linked to nearby trails. The natural beauty of the campus is enhanced with this new iconic entry water feature which includes a boardwalk for patients and their families to walk the upper shoreline.

The water feature consists of an architectural waterfall that separates a 5 acre lower lake and the 1.5 acre upper reflecting pond. The massive water wall is a 16 foot tall by 500 foot long structural concrete retaining wall with a 400 linear foot waterfall weir. The wall is clad in contemporary glass fiber reinforced concrete panels (GFRC); coupled with a 240HP lift pump, creates a 30,000 GPM whitewater effect on the wall face. Conversely, the ponds were to remain more placid. To achieve this, COST designed and constructed large concrete dispersion and intake units, served by 60 inch diameter pipe lines, to minimize wave ripples caused by the water volume being distributed. This water feature is part of the overall site hydrology management; which includes twelve building roof drains that feed through the waterfall wall and directly into the lower pond.

COST of Wisconsin, Inc. was selected for design, engineering, fabrication, and construction of the retaining wall, waterfall, mechanical, and electrical systems.  Prior to on-site construction, a full scale operational mockup was reviewed by the project team to ensure design intent was delivered. The water feature design and construction team included COST, Gensler, Pelli Clarke Pelli, and Turner Construction.

Additional water feature information can be found at

Also see the aquatic exhibit fishpond at "Bass Pro Shops, Memphis Pyramid"