On Saturday, July 6th, Creative Grounds hosted the first of three public activations of 2019.
It was a hot summer day and we were ready to get messy with our spray paints and markers, necessary for prototyping for the Bronzeville map installation, planned to be finished in conjunction with the opening of Chicago Architecture Biennial, on September 19, 2019.
While the Bronzeville map installation will be completed in September, this project is part of larger plans for redesigning the school grounds at Overton that is being prepared by Site-Design. These two projects, as part of the Climate and Cultural Resilience program by Elevated Chicago, will focus on activating the East side of the school, on Prairie Avenue, to create a more pleasurable community space while implementing strategies for stormwater management.
Before we could begin spray painting anything onto the asphalt, we had to do some prep work: figuring out the right scale for the map to be drawn, how the roads will be colored, and how I would distribute the workload so multiple people can work on it at the same time. Looking back, the hardest part was probably having to clean up the map so that there would be a strategic system as to how wide the streets would be. In the end, we were able to categorize them into 4 widths, represented in different colors, so that when people get a grid block, they'd be able to draw without worrying too much about dimensions. The extent of this map will feature half of Bronzeville and Washington Park – from 31st Street to 60th Street.
Once we figured out the overall scale, we tested out a block of the drawing on asphalt so we could show our workshop participants and collaborators how to set up and paint. The selected pilot block was the block of 49th Street / 50th Street / Indiana Avenue / Prairie Avenue – where Overton is located as a reference point.
When trying to set up the grid and spray paint, we realized how challenging this side of the parking lot was since the asphalt has multiple cracks and the need for cleaning – the gravel made it hard to keep the tape sticking to the ground. We used very simple materials to transfer the drawing, duck tape to mark the grid points, and masking tape to outline the streets. This part of the set up is the most time consuming having to work in an open field, and we realized it needs at least 2-3 people to handle multiple tasks between marking, taping and drawing. The spray painting process itself was easy and quick - especially with the roads all being uniform. But overall, the mock-up test that we thought would take an hour ended up taking 2.5 hours. This test was very insightful to think about the production time and implementation for the entire map.
After all the spray painting was done, we also made prototypes of the map markers. The markers are inspired by 1:775 Map Installation in Berlin and LA Más' Hollywood Pop. Before the activation day, we tested out a few designs and materials, like plywood, and decided it would be best to make a quick foam core model in 1:1 scale with the arrow circle positioned at the bottom.
Once we made the foam core prototype, we were satisfied with how it gave us a better sense of scale and stability. Through this test, we noted how the marker itself should be thicker, to withstand the wind when outdoors, and how the pedestal at the bottom needs to be taller to create more surface that the vertical element can lean on. The idea is to populate the two-dimensional map on the parking lot with ~50 these three-dimensional markers to feature and discuss community assets.
-A Bronzeville resident
-An architect, designer or artist
-Curious about Process(ing) Transformation
-Or all of the above?
Come join us at the Former Anthony Overton School for our public activations on Saturdays, July 27 and August 31 from 1-4pm! Register here!
Also watch out for the celebration we are holding at the school on September 21, 1-4pm!
Check out the Creative Grounds website for more information. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.
Hope to see you there!