Spring 2017 architectural students at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) put their planning and design skills together in an effort to bring beauty, life and culture to a space mostly forgotten in the urban landscape.
The students participated in a 10-day ideas competition from January 26 to February 9 that drew more than fifty students paired into thirteen teams. Each team was tasked with designing a new public space under the Chicago Skyway to act as the southern anchor to the South Chicago Commercial Avenue corridor.
Student design proposals were intended to transform the unused site along Commercial Avenue under the Chicago Skyway into a visible and active public space. This new space is designed to act as the southern anchor to the South Chicago Commercial District, the focus of the “South Chicago’s Commercial Avenue Revitalization Plan,” and is an instance of residual infrastructure dead space needing to be transformed from a wasteland into a rich public zone. Students were expected to be visionary in scope, but retain a degree of feasibility. Most importantly, the students were challenged to find a way to bring value to vacant space and enhance the life of the community, both on the specific UnderLine site and across the commercial district.
Students were able to share their ideas with community members, elected officials, and other interested parties at a community gallery opened on February 15, 2017 at the U.S. Bank on 92nd Street and Commercial Avenue. The competition was organized by the UIC School of Architecture in partnership with the South Chicago Chamber of Commerce/SSA #5, and the UIC Great Cities Institute.