Public spaces are important assets to our communities.
Public spaces have a great deal of social value. They play a vital role in the social and economic life of a community. They include programs such as parks, community centers, playgrounds, and plazas. These public spaces allow for many things to take place that our homes do not -- the chance encounter with a friendly stranger, places where people can display their art or culture, opportunities to learn about other people's culture, and a space to feel refreshed and benefit one's mental health.
Placemaking is a multifaceted approach to the planning, design, and management of public spaces. It can be executed in both top-down and bottom-up approaches.
A street is a public thoroughfare in a built environment. It is public land that allows for people, vehicles, and goods to get from place to place, weaving the urban fabric together. The term "roads" is generally used to designate streets that are just for transportation. "Streets", on the otherhand, designates a space for public interaction.
When COVID-19 hit the US this year, we panicked. Although we were not certain of exactly how the virus acts, we did know that congregating close together without facial masks was dangerous. Chicago rushed to close public spaces where congregation happens - parks, beaches, restaurants, bars, fitness facilities, the outdoor running trails, and more.
At the same time, scientists were adamant that outdoor spaces were much safer than indoor spaces. Particles could disperse more outdoors and people were able to spread out (if allowed the opportunity to).
While closing public parks and outdoor areas where people congregate appeared to be a safety precaution, we believe that the city should have been doing the opposite. We should have been providing MORE public space for people rather than taking it away.
We devised a plan to change the use of streets from vehicular-focused to pedestrian-focused. With many people now working from home, vehicular usage was down. People no longer had to commute to and from work, meaning that the streets were freed up of space. That space is exactly what we needed in a pandemic-filled world.
The first floor of our Junction Grove project is to provide a space to showcase artistic pieces created by the artists-in-residence who live upstairs. This first floor gallery space is opened up, creating a large gathering space for events, artist talks, and exhibitions. This project provides a space for arts and expression in an under-resourced neighborhood.
Oak Park Community Center is a conceptual project that houses community resources and public recreation. This public space proposal takes place in the center of the Village of Oak Park and is based on three pillars - a community gathering space, health and wellness, and idea development.
L!ve Cafe is a social gathering space, a learning environment, a place to meet others, and a full service cafe. L!ve Cafe acts as a public connection hub between Oak Park to the west and Austin to the east. The cafe provides a space for people to come together, a perfect example of a public space done right.
We completed a study for Compound Yellow, an arts center located in Oak Park. This study looked at how this site functioned as both a private residence and a public space for the arts. What would normally be a typical residential yard is transformed into a welcoming space for passersby to stop and explore the arts. The project page contains many options that we came up with to create a fun, welcoming environment for people.