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Place Lab digest • Issue #56 • Friday, August 11, 2017
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The Place Lab digest is a weekly round-up of pertinent news, opinions, investigations, and explorations of the arts, architecture, and city-building in Chicago and beyond.

Happenings @ Place Lab

Mejay Gula shares her favorite moment at Place Lab

“One of my favorite moments was the Fort Follows Feelings workshop that I ran during the fifth Ethical Redevelopment Salon Session, which was focused on design. The workshop put a spin on the architectural mantra ‘form follows function,’ which means that the shape of a building should be dictated by its intended use. In this workshop, groups had to build a fort, using simple materials, dictated by a feeling or concept; Poetry, Sense of Ownership, Quiet, Legacy, Cool and Sexy.
This type of exercise is at the heart of my work: intentionally shaping spaces that evoke a specific feeling. Fort-building carries heavy memory, emotions, and the interpretations vary, but each group was able to successfully translate an abstract concept into a built environment. The activity lowers the barriers to who can participate in design and building. Most participants were not creative experts and had a chance to discover their innate building ability and summon a sense of playfulness. Architects and designers in the room acted as facilitators but their role was to listen rather than to lead. I loved the energy that filled the room—liberating, playful, and fun—and I learned that adults need permission to build a fort with other adults.”

Mejay Gula

Place Lab is featuring favorite moments of our team members in the coming weeks to highlight our work over the past three years.

Saturday, August 12 • 10am–3pm
The Muffler Shop
359 E Garfield Blvd [map]

On your way to the Bud Billiken Parade, join us at the Muffler Shop for a special summer book giveaway with Open Books. Enjoy literacy games, stickers, temporary tattoos, refreshments, and free books. Open Books is a nonprofit social venture that provides literacy experiences for tens of thousands of readers each year through inspiring programs and the creative capitalization of books.

Presented by Arts + Public Life, in partnership with Open Books.

Learn more

Exhibition runs July 13 - August 25, 2017
Arts Incubator Gallery
301 E Garfield Blvd [map]

Remain To Be Seen showcases the culminating work of the 2016-17 Arts + Public Life and Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture Artists-in-Residence, Yaw AgyemanLauren Ash, and Stephen Flemister. The ten-month residency program, housed at the Arts Incubator in Washington Park, supports Chicago-based multi-disciplinary artists whose practices critically engage issues of race, ethnicity, and community. Remain To Be Seen exhibits Agyeman, Ash, and Flemister’s reflections on self, identity, power, and visibility through sculpture, painting, installations, video, and sound.

Learn more

What Place Lab is digesting

Workshops imagine future for urban design at UChicago
Andrew Bauld, UChicago News

Across the University of Chicago campus, researchers from a variety of disciplines are engaged in thinking about urban design and architecture and its future on campus. Along with UChicago Urban, Bill Brown, senior adviser to the Provost for Arts, and Christine Mehring, chair and professor of Art History, invited leading scholars and practitioners of architecture and design for a pair of workshops this past spring entitled “Designing Urbanism.” They met to gather insights on the current state of the field and to imagine what may lie ahead for UChicago.
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Stay up-to-date on Place Lab projects, events, news, and happenings with our dedicated blog, SITE.
How America Lost Its Mind
Kurt Andersen, The Atlantic

The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history.
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The Future of Ballet Is Inclusive and Queer
Trina Mannino, Vice

Today, [a clichéd image of ballet] is slowly changing, thanks to the efforts of dancers, companies, and activists working to expand diversity in ballet. Their work couldn't come soon enough, because for too many years, ballet refused to celebrate those who didn't fit within its narrow purview.
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What are you thinking?

Is there something you'd like to see more of in our digest? Topics, interest areas, or subject matter that we're missing? Just have a couple of notes?

Let us know
What's Happening With Creative Placemaking?
Mike Scutari, Inside Philanthropy

ArtPlace America defines creative placemaking as an approach that uses the arts to "shape the social, physical, and economic futures of communities." That sounds simple enough, but as ArtPlace will admit, there are striking differences between rural and urban communities that invariably influence one's approach.
Read more
What smart planners are reading right now

Check out what publications planners all over the globe are following to stay in the loop on redeveloping, building, and maintaining better cities.
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Missed last Friday's edition of the digest? Read it in the archives here.
The architect charged with bringing China's former capital back to life
Oscar Holland, CNN

As rampant development unfolds across urban China, the country's former capital has retained much of its old charm. Many historic buildings still stand in Nanjing amid the steel and glass. And over 100 of them owe their longevity to Zhou. From a disused church to a crumbling hotel, he has breathed new life into the city's buildings, fighting to preserve the past in a country where heritage is often forfeited in the name of progress.
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Bill de Blasio Will Push for Tax on Wealthy to Fix Subway
Emma G. Fitzsimmons, The New York Times

Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to push for a tax on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for improvements needed to address the crisis engulfing New York City’s subway... The proposal is the latest move in the battle... over who bears responsibility for repairing the deteriorating transit system. The plan would also pay for half-price MetroCards for low-income riders — part of a national movement that has gained momentum in New York.
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Does City-Sanctioned Streets Activism Dull Tactical Urbanism?
Josh Cohen, Next City

Fittingly, tactical urbanism has evolved rapidly in the last decade. The planning approach, which deploys quick, light-touch changes to show ways street design can be improved, began as a form of activism, with citizens making overnight alterations without official permission. Today... many cities are now experimenting with sanctioned pop-up projects that last for a few days or weeks to demonstrate new designs.
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What four big walls can offer Chicago's South Side
Dan Wheeler, The Chicago Tribune

Chicago's greatest physical and most sublime historic resource lies dormant: the ore walls. These four parallel, half-mile long, 30-foot-high battered masonry walls, once filled with limestone and iron ore that fed the largest blast furnace in the world, are now filled with volunteer native plants and over 200 bird species... We see that the ore walls at the U.S. Steel South Works are yet again threatened by speculative development. We should retain and embrace the ore walls and the spaces they define rather than demolish or obscure them with already dated, privatized architectures.
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Chicago’s Kuumba Lynx is a safe haven for youth artists
Yvette Caslin, Rolling Out

For two decades, alongside many of Chicago’s artists, activists, educators, and youth communities, Kuumba Lynx has honed art that presents, preserves and promotes hip-hop as a tool to reimagine and demonstrate a more just world... The organization allows youth to find their authentic voice and truth and provides them with the resources and platform to express that truth artistically.
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From our bookshelf:

The Public Wealth of Cities by Dag Detter & Stefan Fölster

Purchase it here
The DOJ's Perverse Response to Chicago's Sanctuary City Lawsuit
Tanvi Misra, CityLab

On Monday, Chicago filed a lawsuit against the federal government, alleging that the Department of Justice’s latest and most powerful attack on so-called sanctuary cities is unconstitutional... In response, the Department of Justice shamed the mayor, blaming the city’s crime problems on its sanctuary policies, which divorce local policing from federal immigration enforcement.
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19 Examples of How Good Design Will Reshape Our Future
Architectural Digest

Now in its fourth year, the Rethinking the Future Awards, put on by the New Dehli–based architecture platform of the same name, endeavors to spotlight the most game-changing plans for building, landscaping, and urban planning.
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Striking Photos That Capture the Psychological Impact of Urban Architecture
Alison Nastasi, Flavorwire

Chicago-based artist Clarissa Bonet explores the psychological context of urban space in her photographs. Her series City Space, which we learned about on Booooooom, portrays the imposing physicality of architecture in a dense metropolis. The figures featured in her images are often performing mundane tasks, surrounded by a vast network of buildings that sometimes appear ominous. The composition of the buildings create alternately claustrophobic and open spaces that form silent relationships with residents, inviting an intuitive response from passersby. See more of Bonet’s striking work in [this] gallery.
Read more
Place Lab is a team of professionals from the diverse fields of law, urban planning, architecture, design, social work, arts administration, and gender and cultural studies.  A partnership between Arts + Public Life, an initiative of UChicago Arts, and the Harris School of Public Policy, Place Lab is a catalyst for mindful urban transformation and creative redevelopment. Led by renowned artist and University of Chicago faculty member Theaster Gates, this joint enterprise merges Chicago Harris’ Cultural Policy Center’s commitment to cultural policy and evidence-based analysis with Place Lab’s work at Arts + Public Life on arts- and culture-led neighborhood transformation.

Place Lab is just one star in a constellation of projects and programs led by artist Theaster Gates and located primarily on Chicago's South Side. Stay connected with our partner organizations by signing up to receive e-news. Arts + Public LifeRebuild Foundation, and Currency Exchange Café.
Copyright © 2017 Place Lab, All rights reserved.

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