Category Archives: Equity

Family Gathering

A Chicago garden calls a Black community pushed to the margins back together again.

By Zach Mortice

MKSK Community Garden Design
MKSK’s design for the community garden extends a Mauricio Ramirez mural onto the ground plane. Image courtesy MKSK.

Since 2009, a vacant lot turned community garden on the 4600 block of Winthrop Avenue in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood has commemorated the Winthrop Avenue Family, the descendants of a group of Black families who for much of the 20th century were confined to this one block of the predominantly white neighborhood. “Everybody who lived on the block [was] not necessarily blood-related, but we were so close we felt like we were, and still do,” says Emilie Lockridge, whose mother was born there in 1925.

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Breaking Bonds

Design for Freedom works to end modern slavery in the materials supply chain.

By Kamila Grigo

Theaster Gates Black Chapel Design
A design by the artist Theaster Gates, Black Chapel was a pilot project of Design for Freedom. © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo: Iwan Baan. Courtesy: Serpentine

The 2022 Serpentine Pavilion, titled Black Chapel and designed by the multihyphenate artist Theaster Gates, was conceived as a space offering contemplation, community, and joy to the public.

Installed next to the Serpentine South Gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens, the austere pavilion felt at once imposing, as it reached just beyond the treetops, and humbly compact and perfectly embedded within its context.

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A Park in Progress

Marsha P. Johnson was a hero in the Black trans community. Will the park designed in her honor earn the same admiration?

By Stephen Zacks

A tree-lined, cobblestone-paved path.
The park’s cobblestone-paved entrance references the site’s early days as a freight terminal. Photo by Zen Beattie.

A subtle shift has taken place in the park at the end of North 7th Street in Brooklyn, New York’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Recently renamed for the late Black trans LGBTQ+ civil rights activist Marsha P. Johnson, the redesigned park has retained the relatively ad hoc feeling of its previous iteration as East River State Park. It still has swaths of concrete embankments scattered around the site, remnants of the place’s industrial history as a rail and marine terminal. The main entrance has been repaved with cobblestones, mirroring the crumbling remains of the original entry. New seating is fabricated from rough-cut logs. Continue reading A Park in Progress

Book Review: Gone Feral

A review of Natura Urbana: Ecological Constellations in Urban Space by Matthew Gandy.

By Anjulie Rao

Cover of the book Natura Urbana, showing a wild plant on an urban lot.

There are more than 30,000 vacant lots in the city of Chicago—remnants of urban renewal’s disastrous execution and disinvestment. Where buildings once stood, acres of new life have emerged. Many of those empty lots have become overgrown—small prairies where remnants of building foundations peek out from plots of seeding grasses; thick, tender lamb’s-quarter; and purple flowering chicory. The lots are home to rats, skunks, raccoons, and the occasional possum. Chicago, like many postindustrial cities, grapples with how to develop these spaces, calling them wastelands. Continue reading Book Review: Gone Feral

The Team on Tops

By any count, Presidio Tunnel Tops had an unusual number of women in construction and project leadership. They say there are good reasons for that.

By Anne C Godfrey

Three women sitting on the ground at the park.
The Meadows, sitting directly on top of the Highway 101 tunnels, is a place to gather and enjoy the views. Photo by Rachel Styer.

An unexpected amount of rain fell on the Presidio Tunnel Tops construction site this past October. The rain was a mixed blessing; though welcomed by parched San Francisco Bay Area residents, it had damaged parts of the job site. Kerry Huang, ASLA, a senior associate at James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), the project’s design partner and landscape architect, said that layers of soil and plants were torn out of one of the embankments, despite the recent installation of erosion control blankets. Huang is a construction manager for Tunnel Tops, one of an unusual number of women who are project managers on this high-profile project. Continue reading The Team on Tops