The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has struggled to tell the complex story of America and to reflect the country’s rich diversity. Despite recent progress in this area, the majority of park visitors continue to be older, whiter, and wealthier than most Americans. This studio will explore the national park visitor center as a key site for welcoming a more diverse population and helping to connect people across differences, reinforcing the national parks’ potential as places of healing and personal growth.
Today more than one third of all national parks and monuments are in cities, a number that has steadily grown since the 1960s, when the NPS recognized the potential of urban parks and recreation areas to reach a wider range of users. This studio will examine one of the newest urban additions to the NPS system: the Pullman National Monument. Located on the far South Side of Chicago, Pullman was the first planned industrial town in the U.S., founded in 1880. It was the site of a consequential labor strike in 1894 and became further distinguished in the 1920s and 30s as a center of the African-American labor movement. While the company town eventually failed, much of the community’s architectural fabric and organizing spirit remains. Pullman was named a national monument in 2015 thanks to decades of work by community groups and local preservationists.
Our studio will design a new center for convening at the park that will serve both Pullman, the national monument, and Pullman, the Chicago neighborhood. Drawing on the area’s continued pursuit of community organizing, we will respond to the contemporary environmental and economic challenges facing Pullman as well as the opportunity to reposition its historic buildings and infrastructure toward new uses.
This course is offered on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons, and is open to Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Design students who will work in pairs of their selection after the first assignment. A specific design and/or research assignment will be given each week, that will cumulatively advance the design as a final project. Guest speakers of diverse backgrounds and disciplines will join us each week to share their work and perspectives on Pullman.