Having grown up in the "City of Festivals," I have developed a great appreciation for large, civic celebrations. Cultural festivals, music festivals, street festivals...I love them all. One thing that I had not encountered, until now, is a festival dedicated entirely to places. But on the weekend of May 18-20th, the City of Chicago will be hosting just that.
The Great Chicago Places and Spaces event is not so much a centralized "festival" in the traditional sense of the word as it is a citywide celebration of geo-identity. All cities define themselves by two things -- people and places. Chicago, though, has a special affection for its places; it is one of the world's great architectural capitals, so its public spaces and buildings take on a special importance. Architecture is to Chicago what film is to Los Angeles: lifeblood.
GCPS will open with a public lecture entitled Innovation in Social Housing: Art, Design and Community that will feature Rick Lowe, Carol Ross Barney, Raul Raymundo and Curtis Lawrence. Saturday and Sunday have full schedules of architectural and neighborhood tours that will cover everything from the renaissance of Bronzeville to the influence of the Burnham Plan to recent architectural landmarks. (Most tours are free and open to the general public, but some require pre-registration and a small fee, so if you plan on going make sure to register soon!) In between tours, participants can take self-guided tours of the city's great interior spaces (The Rookery, La Salle Bank Building, Reliance Building, and others) or attend a number of place-related events that include an architectural film festival, exhibits at the Art Institute on the drawings of Louis Sullivan and Renzo Piano's glassy new addition, and the School of Architecture at UIC's Year-End Show. It's like a place buffet!!
So if you're at all interested in architecture, public space, or Chicago in general, plan a trip out to the Windy City. You'll never have a better excuse.
Great Chicago Places and Spaces
Chicago Architecture Foundation