PLAY IN' A-ROUND
PROPOSAL FOR THE 2015 CHICAGO BIENNALE PAVILION
In Collaboration with Samaa Elimam, Parsa Kamali, Jackie Park, & Max Wong
Chicago’s history can be described through its catalogue of social, economic, and cultural innovations. Among many, the city’s rich and important railroad history, its role in financial speculation, its modernization through the rationalized grid layout (itself a result of speculation), and of course its architectural innovations afforded by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe. Considering the objects of these innovations and their being as “always becoming,” we understand form as something not solely defined by the object itself, but rather, dependent on its context, place, time, and other actors at work on it, indeterminate. The city grew by virtue of the grid, which was defined by plots of land, individual units, that served as speculative currency to be manipulated by the public, creating a feedback loop whereby trading results in the reorganization of land and in turn, the grid itself. The city’s form could thus not be defined or “whole” at any moment in time. Our proposal strives to reclaim these notions of indeterminacy that have been so closely linked to the city of Chicago. In doing so, we invite the public, as well as the seasons, to be the determining factor in the kiosk’s form on a day-to-day basis.
In addition to its history of innovation, Chicago has a longstanding history as a site of play as well. The 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago was the birthplace of the carnival and midway culture, as well as many of the spectacles and recreational novelties that scatter the world’s largest cities today, including the original George Ferris wheel that introduced the public to a previously unaccessible view of the city. This legacy of recreational amenities allowing the public to reimagine and re-envision the city has continued with contemporary public art pieces, including Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, often referred to as a “fun house.” Our kiosk rests at the intersection of Chicago’s recreational waterfront lifestyle and its broader appreciation of play as an essential part of urban culture.
Employing these notions of play, radial tension, and indeterminate form, our proposal consists of a unified kiosk for gathering and celebration at the Chicago Biennale, and will provide a series of programs and wayfinding devices along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The kiosk is composed of six independent mini-pavilions that have the capacity to be reconfigured between the seasons and over the course of the day to provide for different forms of enclosure, shelter, and program. The kiosk can unfold and refold, easily transforming between open and closed states (and everything in between). Dispatched along the lakefront, Play in’ A-Round ’s scattered parts work together as visual wayfinding devices for tourists and mile markers for Chicago Marathon runners. Play in’ A-Round can accommodate both concentrated and widespread activities in hot and cold weather. Play in’ A-Round offers the city a constantly evolving ceremony that transforms throughout the seasons as it progresses between different sites.
ACTIVATING THE URBAN SCALE
In its maximum state, the spaces of the kiosk will be completely dismantled and spread along the Lakefront. In this manner, the public will be able to continuously enjoy the kiosk as they walk the length of the Lakefront. Furthermore, each unit can serve as a mile-marker or water station during events such as the Chicago Half Marathon.