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Place Lab digest • Issue #1 • Friday, July 15, 2016
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The Place Lab digest is a weekly round-up of pertinent news, opinion, investigations, and explorations of the arts, architecture, and city-building in Chicago and beyond.

This week @ Place Lab


Place Lab is currently working on a demonstration project called Board Up,  a community engagement series that involves neighbors in reimagining the possibilities of formerly active spaces. The first Board Up focuses on the vacant St. Laurence Elementary School in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood of Chicago, and brings together youth participants from Rebuild Foundation programs to explore the intersection of materials reclamation and artistic expression. Drawing from the history of the community and the collections at Stony Island Arts Bank, Chicago artist Ruben Aguirre is leading a group of youth with varying art and design experiences in a two-week intensive. The participants are exploring pattern-making to view culture and identity.

On Monday, July 11, 2016, fourteen youth participants in the Board Up project made a site visit to St. Laurence. Their completed boards, works of art to adorn the windows of this property, will be unveiled in August.

View the photo album here.
Read more about this project here.


Since 2014, Place Lab has been supporting the reimagining of an underutilized space in Gary, IN. ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen will provide access to a commercial training kitchen for local residents and emerging businesses, culinary business incubation (CBI) and operation space, a pop up café shaped by CBI participants, community dinners in Gary homes and the café, and gallery/exhibition space.

ArtHouse was selected as one of four winning projects of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, a grant program that supports projects in which local governments work with artists to create public art that celebrates creativity, enhances urban identity, and inspires economic growth. 

On Wednesday, July 13, ArtHouse announced the winners of their Bloomberg Public Art Challenge: Virginia-based design team, Ripple + Wilson.

Learn more about Ripple + Wilson, their design proposal LIGHT-LAB, and the Bloomberg Public Art Challenge here.

What Place Lab is digesting

Is gentrification really a problem?
Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker

The opposite of gentrification is not a quirky and charming enclave that stays affordable forever; the opposite of gentrification is a decline in prices that reflects the transformation of a once desirable neighborhood into one that is looking more like a ghetto every day...
Read more
Gary considers outside help to clear land
Gregory Tejeda, Chicago Tribune

Gary municipal officials hope to complete an agreement with [MaiaCo] that will assist the city in clearing land for development...The mayor has said city officials ultimately will retain control of land in Gary, even though outside help is being sought. 'This is something we cannot do alone as a community," she said...
Read more
Reclaimed Soul: Gary, Indiana Soul
Ayana Contreras, WBEZ's Reclaimed Soul

Gary, Indiana has a rich history, and it's more than just steel. In this latest edition of WBEZ's Reclaimed Soul on the Morning Shift, Jenn White talks to Ayana Contreras about the unique soul music that came out of Gary, Indiana. Take 13 minutes to listen to a piece of Gary's cultural history.
Listen now
Designing a Police Station That Serves the Community
Jen Kinney, Next City

Responding to the need to replace the aging and outgrown North Precinct building, a Seattle Design Commission plan would create a $160 million bulletproof headquarters outfitted with de rigueur rain gardens and cut stone seats, a large glass public lobby and a community room. But at a public hearing in June, members of the public said they saw the expensive design as part of an aggressive militarization of the police, and a further wedge in a growing divide...
Read more
Understanding TIFs
Cook County Clerk David Orr

An informational video to help people understand tax increment financing districts. The video addresses how TIF districts are created, how the money is generated, and some common criticisms of the economic development tool.
Watch video
Union Station Master Plan Announces First Phase Design Partner, New TIF Funding
Jay Koziar, Curbed Chicago

In addition to announcing [UK-based global architectural and engineering firm] Arup as lead design and engineering partner, Union Station’s phase one overhaul also has a new source of local funding. Recently passed tax increment finance (TIF) legislation now grants the city the power to create special transportation-specific tax districts within a half-mile of ‘L’ lines and Union Station’s main building...
Read more
The 10 Most Important Issues Facing Cities, According To Their Mayors
Brooks Rainwater, Fast Company

From New York to San Francisco, and small- and mid-size cities in between, the future is being forged by the thinkers and doers congregating in our city centers...
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UChicago's Cathy Cohen on GenForward survey of young voters
Cathy Cohen

UChicago Professor Cathy Cohen discusses GenForward, a first-of-its-kind survey of over 1,750 young adults ages 18 to 30 conducted monthly that pays special attention to how race and ethnicity shape how respondents experience and think about the world. Cohen discusses results from the first survey, released July 12, including the views of young voters of the presidential candidates...
Watch video
Chicago's South Side

This new WTTW documentary hosted by Geoffrey Baer traces the history and culture of neighborhoods south of I-55. Learn about the events that shaped communities and meet the people who created the true identity of Chicago's South Side...
Watch video
30 years and 71 failed ideas to develop DuSable Park
Nausheen Husain, Chicago Tribune

In its decades long history, the lack of success hasn't been because of a lack of ideas for what to do with the space. Take a tour [bottom of article] of the proposals over the years, both official and citizen-driven, for DuSable Park, plus one idea a group is planning for the coming year...
Read more
Stay up-to-date on Place Lab projects, events, news, and happenings with our dedicated blog, SITE.
The Library of Congress Gets a History-Making New Leader
Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic

Carla Hayden is the 14th Librarian of Congress, and the first woman and African American to serve in the role...Hayden is the first professional librarian to run the Library in more than 60 years...
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Theaster Gates on the nuts and bolts of life – all 30,000 of them
Hannah Ellis-Petersen, The Guardian (US)

Nothing he does is about nostalgia, insists [artist Theaster Gates] – it’s about power. The disappearance of local hardware stores speaks to the disappearance of local community, local government and therefore local power in the face of large conglomerates, creating a world where “profit will trump humanity”...
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.
Copyright © 2016 Place Lab, All rights reserved.

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