The Englewood Village Plaza at 58th Street and Halsted serves as the entry point to the Englewood Nature Trail. As a two-mile-long green infrastructure reuse project, the trail builds on foundational values of anti-displacement, fostering career pathways, and community stewardship. The plaza will serve as a gathering space for the Englewood community with a range of uses including a weekly community market, a learning garden, and a site for cultural discussions and film screenings—all rooted in Black culinary and land traditions. Surrounding the Trail is a network of urban farms led by a collective of Black and Brown farmers who are growing a local food system that will enable Black farmers, producers, and food related businesses to grow along the 59th Street corridor.
As the main entry point to the Englewood Nature Trail, the 58th Street Plaza will be a dynamic hub for community-driven tactical urbanism and place keeping. Design elements focused on urban farming and community gathering space weave in the mission of Grow Greater Englewood, the organization stewarding the Plaza. Through a co-creation process with Grow Greater Englewood, Atelier Bow-Wow designed raised gardening beds, indoor growing houses, new office space, a forty-person communal table, and the Englewood Commons. Both the Community Table and the Commons serve multiple functions: the former is a place where residents can break bread with their neighbors and families, feeding both body and soul. The latter, to be constructed in 2022, will be a gathering deck for events, markets, and performances. Together, these communal spaces, which will be open to all partners and community residents, reinforce the idea that community wealth is rooted in its health.
Atelier Bow-Wow’s works are produced from the concept “architectural behaviorology.” The word “behavior” includes behaviors of natural elements such as light, air, heat, wind, and water, and human behavior, and building’s behavior. “Architectural behaviorology” investigates the mechanism of these behaviors and aims to synthesize them to optimize their performance in its specific context. It focuses the repetitive, rhythmical, shareable aspects of behavior, and sifts the architectural design from individuality based into commonality based.
By programming specifically for the Black community on the South Side, the Plaza will allow community members to share forgotten and overlooked histories and practices rooted in the land. It will shed new light on foods from the Black community and their connection and influence in other diverse communities. Through participation in the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the partnership with Atelier Bow-Wow, Englewood will have another vibrant public space that allows for community stewardship and programming.