MLA Studio: Contested Terrains—Chicago River Studio

  • Node G: MLA FA16-501
  • Node H: MLA FA16-501
  • Node I: MLA FA16-501
  • Node J: MLA FA16-501
  • Node K: MLA FA16-501
  • Node L: MLA FA16-501

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Contested Terrains: Chicago River Studio
Studio 501, Fall 2016

In landscape architecture, "reclamation" and "restoration" have emerged as guiding values across a range of projects. At times, these notions can gloss over existing social frictions and contentious associated displacements. The city of Chicago is a fundamentally contested landscape, and for this studio, students were asked how a critically informed landscape practice might bring these contested terrains into the open. The studio took a tour of the waterways that put Chicago on the imperial map, and the students took interest in the pre-colonial portage and the post-colonial histories of upheaval of the river and canal system. Through their research, they chose their own sites, whether a trash barge or the entire I&M Canal. The challenge for each project was to stake out a position, knowing that prioritizing one thing may come at the expense of another—that, to paraphrase Ta-Nehisi Coates, you make peace with the chaos, but that you do not lie. The studio was led by assistant professor Jesse Vogler and lecturer Micah Stanek.