Place Lab produced a demonstration project called Board Up, a community engagement program that involved communities in reimagining the possibilities of disused spaces. Board Up involved the vacant St. Laurence Elementary School in Greater Grand Crossing, Chicago. Concepts for the future of St. Laurence may include makerspace that provides education and job training in industrial design and fabrication that will augment neighbors’ skills and expand employment prospects. 

During June of 2016, young people in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood engaged with the reimagining of St. Laurence through artistic intervention, using the windows in the building as a canvas to provide comment on the possibilities of St. Laurence. Drawing from the history of the community and the collections at the Stony Island Arts Bank, Chicago artist Ruben Aguirre led a group of youth in exploring pattern-making as a lens through which we can view culture and identity.

On Thursday, August 11, the newly enhanced exterior of the vacant St. Laurence Elementary School was unveiled. The window art works were viewed and celebrated at a community party. The event featured Rebuild Foundation’s musicians-in-residence, Coultrain and Mikel Patrick Avery, and ¡Anímate! Studio's FrankenToyMobile rolled in to help stretch creative muscles. Lemonade, popcorn, and school bags were given out.

To see these beautiful boards in place, visit St. Laurence Elementary at 1353 E. 72nd St., Chicago 60619. To learn more about the project, read our blog entry, Purpose-driven development: St. Laurence project.