Following the reveal of the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB)’s globe-spanning initial list of contributors (Studio Barnes, Atelier Bow-Wow, Hood Design Studio, and Soil Lab among them) in late April, further details about the upcoming exhibition continue to trickle in at a steady pace. Yesterday, a preliminary list of community partner sites and organizations was announced with further details to come in the weeks ahead. Opening on September 17, the 2021 edition, led by artistic director David Brown, is titled The Available City and will focus on the creative, community-benefitting reuse of the thousands of vacant lots dotting Chicago’s West and South Sides.
Below is a shortlist of the just-announced participating sites and organizations that will be working in collaboration with the previously announced CAB contributors to transform disused, city-owned parcels into thriving community assets. That’s in addition to a range of other installations, exhibitions initiatives, and neighborhood-centered programming. As noted in a news release, Brown selected the partnering organizations to “highlight a range of innovative approaches and ideas that can transform a vacant space into a community resource.”
“The world looks to Chicago for innovative approaches to architecture, urban planning and the arts, and the contributors and partners assembled for The Available City carry that legacy forward,” said CAB founding board member Michelle T. Boone in a statement. “Chicago’s neighborhood and cultural leaders are eager to welcome the world back to Chicago in September 2021.”
- As teased in the April contributor announcement, Under the Grid and contributor Open Architecture Chicago will come together to realize a proposed 15-block greenway tucked beneath the Chicago Transit Authority’s Pink Line that aims to “provide a safe, fun, and engaging route through the community, bringing much-needed vibrancy to the area.” For the project, Miami-based design Studio Barnes will develop an installation on a hard surface lot managed by the Westside Association for Community Action (WACA) that will “promote play and social gatherings and serve as a space for performances and programming,” per CAB.
- Tokyo-based 2021 contributor Atelier Bow-Wow will be joined by a cohort of local architects, artists, and community leaders—Anton Seals, Bweza Itaagi, Andres Hernandez, and Eric Hotchkiss among them—to create an iconic 58th Street entry plaza for an in-the-works 2-mile-long nature trail set along an old elevated railway line on the South Side. Spearheaded by community development organization Greater Englewood, the nature trail project “encourages gathering, connectivity, and commerce, and can be a safe, inviting, and peaceful space for community residents” according to CAB.
- El Paseo Community Garden, a NeighborSpace site in the Lower West Side community of Pilsen, will team with Rotterdam-based Studio Ossidiana and Columbus, Ohio’s Outpost Office to “develop site-specific installations that embraces the balance between the civic and the domestic.”
- ProjectHOOD, a Woodlawn-based community organization led by Pastor Corey Brooks Sr. that offers “job training, essential resources, and tools to empower community members to become peacemakers, problem solvers, leaders, and entrepreneurs,” will partner with Chicago-based Norman Teague and Ebere Agwuncha of Norman Teague Design Studios and architect Negin Moayer of BNMO Design, to erect an installation in a vacant lot located on the 6600 block of South Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. Per Cab, the installation will “highlight local artists and provide a space for performances as part of a long-term project to raise funds to complete the building of a permanent ProjectHOOD Community Center.”
- Bronzeville’s former Overton Elementary School along with the Washington Park Development Group will team with Chicago-based contributor Borderless Studio to “build on previous work as a Biennial site for the 2021 edition,” according to CAB. Overton Elementary, a National Register of Historic Places-listed mid-century modern landmark completed in 1963, has been reactivated as part of the Creative Grounds initiative, in which closed public school buildings are repurposed through “community-led and inclusive processes.” Per CAB, community activation days will be held at the Perkins&Will-designed building throughout the summer in the lead-up to the Biennial’s September opening.
- 2021 CAB partner the Community Christian Alternative (CCA) Academy will team with Chicago and Bainbridge Island, Washington-based contributor Bittertang Farm to build on a four-part 2019 CAB Youth Studio Workshop in which ideas for education-centric green spaces were generated by Brown and Bittertang Farm in collaboration with CCA Academy students. As noted by CAB, the CCA Academy’s PermaPark, a permaculture food forest in North Lawndale, currently serves as a site for learning about food production and the environment as a part of its Holistic Wellness Program.
- The South Loop’s Lendlease-sponsored Southbank Park in the South Loop, will partner with Chicago- and Philadelphia-based PORT for a site-specific installation that responds to the history of the Chicago River.
As mentioned, further information about these contributor/community organization partnerships, along with details about CAB 2021 programming, including workshops, lectures, and performances, will be announced in the coming weeks.