The University of Chicago's Arts + Public Life (APL) initiative supports the groundbreaking Arts Incubator, providing dynamic and stimulating programming for the residents of Chicago's South Side and beyond. As recipients of a Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Grant, Project for Public Spaces worked with them to reclaim an adjacent vacant lot and transform it into a vibrant and flexible backyard garden.
Aimed at complementing the programming taking place in the Arts Incubator, the Rain Garden was imagined as a gathering and event space used by both the center and the Washington Park community at large. Amenities were designed by Chicago-based artisans and produced with help from local students involved in the Design Apprenticeship Program (DAP) at the Arts Incubator. In addition to being a quality gathering place, the garden also serves as an example of sustainable design and stormwater management for the neighborhood.
Since the official opening of the space, the entire surrounding area, dubbed the Arts Block, has become home to different arts initiatives, like the Teen Arts Council (TAC) and the Community Actors Program (CAP), which frequently use the space for activities like skill-sharing workshops. A health-conscious café, called the Currency Exchange Café, has also added to the space, especially important, as the park happens to be located in a food desert. The Rain Garden provides a critical space to empower creativity on Chicago's South Side and in the Washington Park neighborhood.
Place Evaluation & User Analysis
Community Engagement & Visioning
Design Review & Oversight
Place Plans & Design