Approximately 45 Chicago Public Schools closed in recent years due to budget cuts and under-enrollment. With an average of 68,000 square feet of indoor space per closed school, this leaves more than 3 million square feet of existing space to be reimagined plus hundreds of acres of outdoor space. Creative Grounds works from the premise that not only will any new proposed venture need to be financially self-sufficient, it will need to clearly signal that it is under new vision and management. What if this closed school (pictured above) in West Pullman remained a learning hub, but this time invited equal use by multiple generations? What if it were a center for learning about entrepreneurship—a new kind of community-led asset offering job training, business incubation, offices, event and maker spaces? Just as important, the plaza outside the building would host cultural activities year-round, signaling to the community that the building is still active, still an anchor for the community’s public life.
This project is featured in the exhibtion 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and curated by UrbanLab.
Chicago Architecture Foundation
Curators: Martin Felsen + Sarah Dunn
Collaboration: Justin Lim (rendering)