Civic Determinants



How can design strategically reconsider a community’s relationship between cultural heritage, stewardship, and self-determination?

“Civic Determinants” is situated within the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, which has served as the political and cultural capital of the Puerto Rican community in the Midwest for the last 50 years. Facing the impacts of gentrification and the threat to cultural heritage, it is paramount to preserve a sense of place within the fabric of the neighborhood. The 207-acre Park, at the center of the community, operates as both a physical public space and as a manifestation of collective histories, circumstances, and values. Therefore, the Park becomes a critical site for intervention to interrupt the reproduction of socio-economic inequity and racism that have shaped the current conditions, while modeling pluralism, self-determination, and equity within a collectively held public space. “Civic Determinants” proposes a new stewardship model that builds on the legacy of self-determination established by the Young Lords and the ongoing institution-building work of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, amplifying community agency for social and urban transformation. A locally governed Community Land Trust will be charged with the maintenance, care, and programming of the Park. Operating within a greater Civic Commons, the reimagined relationship between the state, city, and residents grants the community agency to create emergent cultural affordances and establish safeguards to ensure a more equitable future.

As a new cultural institution, the Arts and Heritage Center serves as a public invitation for new forms of public engagement. The Center sponsors community-building through its capacity to cultivate multi-generational and intercultural exchange by fostering artistic production and promoting ties to cultural heritage through its programming and facilities. The Center’s radical porosity lowers both physical and social barriers for entry to allow the community and its users to continually experiment, redefine, and appropriate the physical space to serve their ever-changing needs. 
Faculty Advisor:
Gina Reichert