By ALLISON MATYUS
The Dorchester Art and Housing Collaborative has received Project of the Year by Landmarks Illinois, a group that advocates for the protection of historic properties. Theaster Gates Jr. professor and director of arts and public life at the University of Chicago’s Department of Visual Arts was the lead on the design team.
Gates and the Rebuild Foundation, with the help of architects Catherine Baker of Landon Bone Baker and Peter Levani of Brinshore Development, restored abandoned townhouses on the 6900 block of Dorchester Avenue into a “cultural hub” featuring an art center, rental units and spaces reserved for artists to work on their diverse projects.
“Increasingly, building owners and developers are recognizing that the preservation and reuse of notable architecture not only enhances the beauty of the state, but also can significantly improve the vibrancy and livability of our neighborhoods, fostering civic pride, community involvement, and additional reinvestment,” said Bonnie McDonald, president of Landmark Illinois, in a written statement.
One of the renovated structures includes The Archive House, which functions as an open library to the books from the Prairie Avenue Bookstore and holds the University of Chicago’s large glass lantern slide collection.
Continuing with his passion for neighborhood transformation with a fixation on art, Gates has also renovated what was once the Stony Island Bank building, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave., into an arts bank that features collection-focused exhibits opening to the public Oct. 3.
The Dorchester Art and Housing Collaborative will be awarded a Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award with $500 and a trophy at an awards ceremony, which will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 at Venue One, 1034 W. Randolph St.