La plaza

2018 National DiscoverDesign Competition:

Define

The McKinley Park neighborhood is home to working-class families with various backgrounds. Due to the several demographic factors, this area is defined as low income. Statistically, low-income communities are highly susceptible to having less access to safe spaces, places to congregate, and healthy organic food. The issue lies in finding a way to create a ubiquitous community space that is relevant and beneficial to the residents. Moreover, residents in this area are more susceptible to being part of the one-third of low wage earners in the workforce earning below the poverty line. (http://cssr.berkeley.edu/pdfs/lowincomefam.pdf) On top of earning low wages, these heads of households still have responsible breadwinners for their families.

Collect Info

The area itself dates back to the mid-1800s when a majority of the people consisted of Irish American immigrants. Over time the land was used for farming, then eventually used for housing, but historically it has always been relatively low income. To this day it remains an important job center with significant portions of its land designated for industrial activity. (cmap.illinios.gov) Mckinley Park showed up in 1901 after the assassination of President Mckinley, coining the name for this neighborhood. Currently, the vast majority of residents are Hispanic or Latino, making up slightly more than half of the community. Blacks make up a little more than a fourth, whites are the third largest ethnicity, then Asians and few others. In other demographics; the population of women to men is mostly head to head. One significant statistic is the distribution of ages, which shows how abundant younger people are compared to older residents. The population peaks at age range under five and again at ages 15-19. According to unitedstateszipcodes.org, almost half of the households have children. Also, most heads of households are also young with most ranging between age 25-44. At this point is where the statistical data of income becomes interesting because it relays back to the issue that young working families are not earning as much, in comparison to Chicago and Cook County, in order to have all the comforts of safe places for their children and access organic, nutrient-dense foods. Moreover, since it is a working-class area, it is important to keep in mind how people get around. Data collected by unitedstateszipcodes.org shows how most residents rely heavily on their own vehicles or public transportation.

Brainstorm Ideas

In a community with specific characteristics, such as a large minority population and more families, the market space provides something for all. La Plaza is a space that encompasses the benefits of community commerce, entertainment, and recreation. After researching the site to understand the needs of my clients, the residents, I began sketching reflections of what I wanted my design to include. Within my first sketch, I was inspired by the curvature of the Clark County Amphitheater. I wanted there to be a fluid movement that connects the vendor spaces, but also separates the purpose of food sellers and artisans such that things are easier to find for those shopping. It then became evident that it was ambitions using the whole lot, which is then accommodated for in the second sketch. Adding a playground, garden, and information kiosk I began to think like the residents. Reflecting on the community marketplaces I have visited, I was driven to add things I know work in community spaces. This included the addition of a gazebo/ stage, finding ways to add universal access, unique ways of shaping the land to provide different outlooks on the site, and the benefits of the community garden.

Develop Solutions

My third sketch represents a culmination of the ideas I considered in order to fulfill the needs of the community. Varying elevations, inspired by submerged housing in the area, and sloped land add fluid movement within the space while also allowing for multiple options of egress. With the multiple levels in my design, flooding is more likely to occur than in a plane site plan. To accommodate to the weather patterns and design, surface drainage systems along stairs and dipping elevations will help prevent that issue. Further considering climate, the addition of brick masonry to some walls was made to reflect the surrounding homes while also being durable and easily maintained. To complement the brick I wanted a wood siding that would give the main structures a modern look. With Chicago's weather patterns, treating pine wood through the Japanese method of shou sugi ban seemed a clear choice as it is effectively waterproof. Completing my solution included the garden where residents can make a program that nurtures eating food they grow to encourage a healthy lifestyle. As for the children, a playground reinforces the healthy lifestyle idea and gives them a safe space to nourish healthy habits while their parents shop or sit by a picnic area with a view to the play equipment.

Comments

Bluemoney00 11 months ago
Very impressed with the research you did. You took into account the materials that would be essential to your design.

Final Design

Much like how the McKinley Park area developed around the park, which set a precedent for parks that had typically been far away from the inner city, La Plaza sets a precedent for access to safe spaces, places to congregate, and healthy organic food within the neighborhood. In the process of finalizing this community market for social good, I discovered the various factors that go into designing for "the greater good." Not only is it important to understand that everyone should feel welcome in this place, but creating solutions that strike that chord of beneficial change is what matters. I pursued my third idea with minor changes in design, but kept the key features of ramps and slopes in addition to stairs and communal sectors for the range of residents. Small things in this design make a large difference, such as a name like La Plaza that appeals to the minority community and having entrances parallel to the bus stop. All the solutions I stuck with were designed to reinforce the idea of being open to the community. Color and vectors bring the space to life to demonstrate how applicable the uses of the space are. It is made evident that La Plaza community marketplace serves the purpose of providing for the greater good of McKinley Park.

Comments

Competition Jury 11 months ago
I really like your branding on the community market. I think you experience a bit of scope creep with the park and playground when this is land that could be used to expand the community market. I'm also not sure what will happen to these spaces in winter. Overall, you have excellent research and very good sketches. Good work!