CHICAGO, IL -- Designing a Better Chicago, a collaborative initiative organized and supported by NeoCon and theMART, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and the Design Museum of Chicago, recently announced the selection of the design team for its large-scale Chicago Riverwalk installation. Chicago-based design firms, Kwong Von Glinow and UB Studio, will unveil their project in June 2020. Aimed at highlighting, leveraging and supporting Chicago’s vast design legacy, talent and resources, Designing a Better Chicago will also include the Design Impact Grant Program, which will recognize individuals or organizations using design for civic good. The annual initiative will be complemented by a series of special talks and events coinciding with NeoCon next June.
“Give me a minute, please!,” the inaugural Chicago Riverwalk installation by Kwong Von Glinow and UB Studio for Designing a Better Chicago, will visually anchor the 2020 edition. The award-winning Chicago architects and designers will bring their unique creative vision to the project site, a space which will feature a new installation each year and is set to become a hallmark of the program.
Situated on the Chicago Riverwalk between Franklin and Lake Streets, the 6,000-square-foot area is located at the confluence of the north, south and main branches of the Chicago River. “The question we asked ourselves when approaching the request for proposal was, ‘What more can we give to this site as architects?’” said Alison Von Glinow, founding partner at Kwong Von Glinow. “We proposed a design that incorporates the idea of time and space in everyday life. As its name ‘Give me a minute, please!’ suggests, our installation offers a space for contemplation: a respite -- even if knowingly momentary -- where visitors will pause, delight and enjoy their surroundings.”
The proposal gives a second life to the existing structure of Robert Burnier’s artwork by building on top of it a lightweight pyramidal structure. Marking the western-most entrance to the Riverwalk, the hovering pure form of the pyramid will draw visitors underneath its canopy. Offering a covered area that houses several furniture-scale follies, “Give me a minute, please!” will activate both formal and informal programming opportunities along the Riverwalk.
Since its inception in 2001, the Chicago Riverwalk has quickly become one of the city’s most popular destinations for art, music, dining and the enjoyment of natural habitats. Beloved by Chicagoans and visitors alike, it continues to offer new ways in which to enjoy the city’s waterfronts and architecture. The Riverwalk design commission for Designing a Better Chicago provides an opportunity to celebrate this beloved amenity while also telling a compelling story about the intersections of art, architecture and design.
“Give me a minute please!” will debut this June during NeoCon and be in place through October 2020.
The newly established Design Impact Grant Program, another key component of Designing a Better Chicago, will offer annual project-specific grants to individuals and organizations using design or design principles to directly address pressing issues in Chicago communities. Grant amounts will include up to $25,000 in funds, with two to four grants set aside to be given out per year based on the quality of applications and available funds.
“Chicago has long been the center of great design -- from the incomparable World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 to NeoCon’s enduring influence each year since 1969, and with so many accomplishments in between,” said Tanner Woodford, founder and executive director of the Design Museum of Chicago. “Through this grant, we are thrilled to help bring Designing a Better Chicago to life. As a platform, we hope to expose and bolster the type of design that continues to make Chicago a better place.”
Nominations for the 2020 program are being accepted now through December 31, 2019, at designchicago.org/dbc. Candidates will then be selected to submit applications January 7 through February 17, 2020, with awards announced in April 2020.
Designing a Better Chicago will engage Chicagoans as well as those visiting the city. Lisa Simonian, vice president of marketing for NeoCon, comments, “We are thrilled to work alongside our City of Chicago and Design Museum partners to begin telling a Chicago design story to the more than 50,000 international design professionals who attend NeoCon each June. We want them to fully experience, enjoy, and support design throughout our world-class design city.”
“We hope that everyone who travels to Chicago for NeoCon will make time to experience iconic Chicago design and the exceptional design talent of our beautiful city,” added Mark Kelly, commissioner of DCASE. “At the same time, we are thrilled that this collaboration will introduce new Chicago audiences to the power of design and ensure that great design impacts all of our neighborhoods.”
Additional information about Designing a Better Chicago, including details on programming and events, will be announced early 2020. A Designing a Better Chicago website will go live mid-January at designingabetterchicago.org.