PLAT|FORMS : Where We Began

Welcome to Place Lab! Our website provides a wealth of information about us, but we encourage you to follow our blog for greater insight on what we do, how we do it, and why. In this blog, we will be showing you the progression of our work; inviting you to take a look at our projects currently in development; sharing thoughts about arts- and culture-based, community-driven redevelopment; and guiding you through a developing model for mindful city-building called The 9 Principles of Ethical Redevelopment.

But before we dive in, we'd like to provide a quick overview of where Place Lab began.

Place Lab was established by the University of Chicago's Arts + Public Life initiative in 2014 with a three-year grant from the Knight Foundation. Place Lab includes professionals from the diverse fields of law, urban planning, architecture, design, social work, arts administration, and gender and cultural studies. As a Chicago-based organization, the team concentrates much of its efforts in advancing place-based projects located on Chicago's mid-South Side. We are committed to defining Ethical Redevelopment Principles and fostering a network of like-minded artists, urban planners, design professionals, developers, community members and policy experts.

In February 2016, Place Lab entered into a partnership with the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy to further develop a joint vision around creation, implementation, and measurement of culture-based public policy. Theaster Gates, Jr., professor of Visual Arts and director of Arts + Public Life, stated that the partnership would create new synergies between art and public policy, allowing for increased intellectual inquiry about how cities change and improve because of the integration of arts and culture. In Gates' words:

“Through an innovative combination of research and practice, Place Lab will provide local, state, federal and international policymakers with effective, creative alternatives to current development strategies. In particular, Place Lab will focus on approaches to community development in which the arts and artist play a prominent role.” 

We first introduced ourselves and our work with the exhibition PLAT | FORMS. Staged in the Arts Incubator, one of Gates's revitalized spaces, PLATS | FORMS translated our often highly technical, research-based work into an engaging, interactive space that involved the public in asking critical questions, exploring ideas about culture-based renewal, providing feedback, and playing a critical role in community-building efforts. Watch the video excerpt above for a short look at what PLAT | FORMS entailed.

In conjunction with PLAT | FORMS, we hosted a series of open conversations called GROWING PAINS that engaged the community in dialogue about public art, public schools, and public housing. You can watch the full video documentation on PLAT | FORMS and GROWING PAINS here.

Again, our goal with this blog is to share and engage— feel free to ask questions, or provide your own thoughts. 

We'll see you in the next entry!

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