Chicago

Fostering Opportunity for All

Chicago Arts + Industry Commons advances an innovative approach to community development – a socially engaged neighborhood master implementation strategy. The goal is clustered and coordinated activity among a network of significant sites, enhancing public access and better integrating these places into the city. This civic commons approach for the South Side of Chicago increases the number of opportunities available for people who have been left out of the upside of economic development.

"Chicago is reimagining the civic commons to further develop the platforms, people and facilities that are turning perceived deficits into assets in some of our most disinvested communities."
–Theaster Gates, Founder & Executive Director, Rebuild Foundation
Reimagining the Civic Commons in Chicago
St. Lawrence
Rebuild Foundation
Stony Island Arts Bank
Community-wide
Garfield Park
Industrial Arts Campus
Kenwood Gardens
Stony Island
Kenwood Gardens
civic
engagement
This former school will re-open as a multipurpose community center and creative entrepreneurship incubator, active with events that community members will develop and foster.
Civic participation thrives as Rebuild Foundation hosts and facilitates an assortment of programs with community members connecting and engaging through a wide range of opportunities.
socioeconomic
mixing
Thanks to its international reputation, Stony Island Arts Bank is a destination for locals and visitors from afar.
All these positive changes throughout the neighborhood are starting to change the narrative about Chicago's South Side.
environmental
sustainability
With the design of each space informed by the reclaiming and repurposing of discarded materials, the history of the neighborhood and community are honored.
As an extension of nearby neighbors’ yards, Kenwood Gardens will become transform vacant industrial lots into a beautiful public garden, increasing access to nature and stormwater management.
value
creation
With so many visitors to Stony Island, adjacent business owners are putting money back into nearby commercial properties and sprucing them up too.
The development of Kenwood Gardens means there are more eyes on the park, and this makes it feel safer, day and night.

Chicago Arts + Industry Commons connects civic assets with untapped potential to recalibrate community activation, targeting resources as networks of neighborhood development, rather than as isolated assets.

Chicago Arts + Industry Commons advances an innovative approach to community development – a socially engaged neighborhood master implementation strategy. The goal is clustered and coordinated activity among a network of significant sites, enhancing public access and better integrating these places into the city. This civic commons approach for the South and West sides of Chicago increases the number of opportunities available for people who have been left out of the upside of economic development.

An existing network of civic assets on the South Side of Chicago have been reactivated and redeveloped: the Stony Island Arts Bank campus, Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative, and a number of affordable housing units for artists and partners along Dorchester Avenue. These anchor sites, owned and managed by Rebuild Foundation and Theaster Gates Studio, will connect to developing projects in St. Laurence Elementary School, a shuttered school that is being transformed into an arts and business incubator, and Kenwood Gardens, a seasonal outdoor oasis for artists and community members to enjoy.

Through a variety of accessible and engaging cultural programs – from weekly classes and DJ sets to artists talks and film screenings – these reimagined spaces attract visitors and artists of varying interests from diverse communities. These civic assets, coupled with the thoughtful and intentional programming supported by Rebuild Foundation, serve as sanctuaries for local artists and creative entrepreneurs, from a range of educational, professional and socio-economic backgrounds, who are looking to strengthen their craft, reach new audiences, or generate new work.

As a demonstration of financial sustainability, the Chicago Arts + Industry Commons employs an evolving cultural reinvestment model that uses the revitalization of civic assets with untapped potential as part of an engine that spurs new development and new capital, a portion of which is used to support the civic commons.

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A Collaborative Effort

Collaborators

  • Rebuild Foundation
  • Theaster Gates Studio
  • The JPB Foundation
  • John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • William Penn Foundation