Public Workshop to lead guerilla building workshop in Chicago’s wonderful Millenium Park?

Posted on July 31st, 2009 at 11:34 pm by in Our Work

Public Workshop to lead guerilla building workshop in Chicago’s wonderful Millenium Park?

Well, I can’t honestly say that the Millenium Park portion of that statement is a sure thing but the rest of it is now settled. On the weekend of September 19-20 I will be designing/leading two participatory building/prototyping events for the Chicago Architectural Foundation . I am really pleased that this is going to happen. One event will be more generally aimed at getting the public engaged in experimenting with the rapid prototyping of structures in a major public space in downtown Chicago- Millenium Park is one of the options on the table.

As cool as taking some of the building/designing tools I’ve developed and deploying them in a downtown Chicago might be, the other event is more deeply satisfying.

What is this fantastic event?

Well, a month ago my six high school students from the Newhouse Program did a fantastic job at the experimental building workshop I designed and led at Taliesin- have a look here if you missed it. One of the more satisfying transformations I witnessed was the students developing from ‘thinkers’ into ‘doers’. There are lot of smart, high achieving teenagers out there and Aldair, Tamanna, Brenda, Salman, Shareka and Andrea certainly are some of the brightest. Just to have the opportunity to participate in this workshop meant that they had to win a Chicago-wide architecture competition, defeating hundreds of other students. However, as you may know one of my greatest concerns about the current state of education in this country is that we go to great lengths to control teenagers, trying to bottle up or lock down all of their wonderful energy and creativity into an often overpopulated, decaying classroom.

If one of the fundamental conditions of being a teenager is to want to control the environment around you and this struggle is in turn the source of much conflict, why not give them control? Why not take all of that energy and need to meaningfully impact the world around them, and unleash it on their decaying neighborhoods or decrepit schools?

On Sunday the 20th of September the aforementioned students will be choosing a site in their neighborhood that they think needs improvement and we will build a structure based on the skills they acquired at Taliesin and the needs of the given neighborhood.

Special thanks to the ever incredible Krisann Rehbein at the Chicago Architecture Foundation for making this happen.

Alex Gilliam