The viaduct at 64th Street and Dorchester Avenue is adjacent to the William Hill Gallery's Botanical Garden, connecting a cultural and biodiverse neighborhood anchor to Jackson Park.

The William G. Hill Center for the Arts, in partnership with the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement, and South East Chicago Commission, invites artists to submit proposals to transform the underpasses on South Dorchester Avenue at East 64th Street, in the Woodlawn neighborhood, through artistic activation. A total of two artists will be chosen for final project implementation, with a $2000 stipend awarded to each artist. The consortium of partners for the 64th Street Underpass Project will be covering material costs towards the artists' vision. Artist stipends are not expected to go towards materials and supplies.

Location of proposed site:

North and South sides of the Metra/CN viaduct on East 64th Street near South Dorchester Avenue in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

Project Timeline:
  • Application Open: January 2017
  • Application Deadline: February 13, 2017
  • Chosen artists meeting with partners: March 6, 2017
  • Community Conversation at the Woodlawn Summit: March 18, 2017
  • Installation Start: early May 2017 (depending on last day of snowfall)
  • Projected completion: August 2017
Project Description

The William G. Hill Center for the Arts, UChicago Office of Civic Engagement (OCE), and South East Chicago Commission are seeking community-driven artists to activate the railroad underpass located at East 64th Street and South Dorchester Avenue in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago. A committee of individuals representing the partner groups will manage a community process that convenes neighborhood stakeholders to explore, address, and develop themes and content with the chosen artists. The local alderman, community and neighborhood stakeholders, and local residents will be given the opportunity to view final design proposals and provide feedback. The artists will then work with the partner committee to implement the approved proposals.

In addition, the committee will work closely with the partners organizations and the chosen artists to organize artist talks and community meetings, as well as coordinate with other community partners and internal units at UChicago to create a pipeline for volunteers from the local community and local schools, including University students and faculty. The committee will also manage opportunities for local residents and interested community members to volunteer on site during implementation.

By intersecting all of these various components, the goals of this project seek to deepen engagement between local artists, community members, cultural institutions, and community organizations on the mid-South Side of Chicago.

Background

With a population of almost 23,000, the historic Woodlawn community is experiencing a resurgence. The community boasts easy access to large parks, the lakefront, Museum of Science and Industry, and University of Chicago campus. The Chicago Transit Authority Green Line, Metra Electric District Line, and Lake Shore drive provide direct connections to the Chicago Central Business District and the larger region.

The Metra/Canadian National railroad embankment creates a physical barrier between the Woodlawn community and historic Jackson Park. The 543-acre Frederick Law Olmsted designed park is considered a gem of the South Side of Chicago. Jackson Park will be home of the forthcoming Obama Presidential Center, which is expected to create $220 million in annual economic impact and attract more than 800,000 visitors each year.

East-west connectivity through the embankment is possible at only six viaducts including 64th Street. The 64th Street viaduct is poorly lit, stark, and unwelcoming. Activating 64th Street and other neighborhood viaducts is critical to strengthening the link between the Woodlawn neighborhood and Jackson Park, improving community identity, and creating a gateway to the Obama Presidential Center and Jackson Park.

Originally posted January 23, 2017. Updated February 13, 2017.