Back to the Future: Visualizing the Arts at UIC

Architects and Designers: Sarah Dunn, Kelly Bair, Maya Nash, and Cheryl Towler Weese; Sam Jacob, Alexander Eisenschmidt, and Mischa Leiner; Andrew Zago, Sarah Blankenbaker, and Sharon Oiga.

Continuing a long architectural history of projecting possible futures, Back to the Future: Visualizing the Arts at UIC presents three speculative architectural proposals intended to provoke discourse about the future of the arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago and their relationships to the city. Developed by teams of School of Architecture and School of Design faculty who worked from the same brief, each proposal for a visual and performing arts building is conceptually and aesthetically distinct. Collectively, however, they reveal shared preoccupations regarding architecture’s role in the envisioning of that future. Through architectural diagrams and drawings, all re-interpret design principles of the Walter Netsch UIC campus to imagine a new arts site that centers currently-dispersed academic programs and makes visible, often quite literally, the creative and educational processes of thinking and making in the visual and performing arts. All explore how architecture can engage new and existing audiences, both internally and externally, by operating as a new gateway between UIC and the world, and by promoting democratic access and exchange across wide-ranging publics. All of the proposals suggest ways architecture can broadcast the ambitions of UIC to be recognized as a nexus of innovation in arts and cultural production and a major public arts destination in the city.

Back to the Future: Visualizing the Arts at UIC and The Netsch Campus: Materializing the Public at UIC, co-curated by Judith K. De Jong and Lorelei Stewart, are complementary exhibitions that explore architecture’s agency in the imagined futures and materialized past of the visual and performing arts at an urban public university. With this exhibition, College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts continues its commitment to research and scholarship that challenges and provokes new ways for the public to imagine our collective futures.