As part of the upcoming reconstruction of the 95th Street Red Line Terminal, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) will seek to incorporate artworks from internationally recognized, Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates.
Creation of the artworks, to be considered by the CTA board on July 15, would involve a program incorporating job creation, skills training and significant community engagement by the artist for the new, $240 million multimodal terminal, set for construction in 2014.
The project, which would represent the largest public artwork project in the CTA’s history, would create 10 jobs for the production of the artwork, and establish an apprenticeship program for local students promoting skills development and training. The artist will host five public meetings to engage and promote a dialogue among community residents, architects and designers.
“This is an historic opportunity to promote community engagement in a once-in-a-generation project on Chicago’s South Side,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This project combines the talents of a world-renowned artist with an effort to create jobs and provide on-the-job training and skills development for both workers and students.”
The Theaster Gates Studio is an internationally acclaimed practice that deals with issues of urban planning and revitalization of poor and underserved neighborhoods through combining urban planning and art practices. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal recognized Gates as Arts Innovator of the Year and he was honored as the Commissioned Artist of the New York Armory Show and featured at Documenta (13), the international art festival in Kassel, Germany Currently, an exhibition of his artwork, Theaster Gates: 13th Ballad, is featured at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
The two artworks envisioned for the 95th Street terminal include an architectural feature integrated into the terminal building structure, and an independent artwork for the terminal or one of its walkways. The terminal is still in the design stages, but concepts call for a modern, efficient, multimodal facility to replace the existing cramped, outdated structure built in 1969.
The 95th Street Terminal is a major gateway to Chicago’s south side, and one of CTA’s busiest rail stations with 24-hour Red Line service and approximately 20,000 customers on an average weekday. Though the station design is still underway, project goals include a new station building with bright, airy spaces and clear sightlines; wider sidewalks and bus lanes to reduce congestion and improve pedestrian safety; and additional elevators and escalators.
“This new station will be a showcase destination, offering a modern, safe and pedestrian-friendly transit center with fewer delays and shorter travel times,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “It will also serve as a vibrant community anchor that will act as a catalyst for new businesses and economic development, creating jobs and complementing a 21st century rider experience.”
The CTA board is expected to consider a $1.3 million contract for the artwork program at its July 15 meeting. Of that amount, $1 million is earmarked for the design, fabrication and installation of the artworks. $50,000 will go toward community engagement activities, including public meetings. The artist fee is $250,000.
Construction of the new terminal, funded by local, state and federal dollars, is expected to begin in 2014, after completion of the Red Line South reconstruction. The project will be completed in 2016.