Loop as Lab

Reshaping Downtowns

2024 — Built

Exhibition Design

LOOP AS LAB: Reshaping Downtowns is an exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Center that examines the challenges and opportunities facing urban cores like Chicago’s Loop in the post-pandemic era. The exhibition creates new entry points into the creative processes, people, and projects that have shaped the histories and futures of Chicago’s downtown district, offering guiding questions and inspirations for other cities. Our exhibition design riffs on the multiple meanings of the term ‘framework’—framework as a planning tool, street grid, and structural innovation that accelerated the city’s development. Organized around the curatorial themes of residing, renewing, reconnecting, and rewilding downtowns, the show features case studies and architectural follies that provide interactive experiences designed to spark dialogue and participatory exchange.

For example:
—peek into a periscope to Reconnect with the river that links the city’s north and south sides;
—step into the Thompson Center voting booth to weigh in on adaptive reuse scenarios to Renew our built environment with unique public spaces;
—sit, Reside, and linger at the civic stoop to discuss priorities for Chicago’s futures before voicing your opinion at the ballot box; and
—dive deep into scenarios for Rewilding our urban core by dissecting layers of the Wild Mile.

A supergraphic floor pattern inspired by civic gathering spaces near and far (from the Piazza del Campidoglio to the James R. Thompson Center) brings the follies together in a radial configuration, inviting visitors to explore and crisscross the gallery in any sequence.

Exhibition Design: Could Be Design (Joseph Altshuler and Zack Morrison)
Graphic Design: SPAN (Bud Rodrecker, Marisa Cruz, Alex Hudson, and Alyssa Arnesen)
Curatorial Team: Eve Fineman, Ian Spula, Adam Rubin
Fabrication: Navillus Woodworks and Zak Rose
Photography: Brian Griffin