In the youth class Lawndale Civic Design, Lawndale youth conducted research that examined barriers to walkability at the Harrison-Homan intersection by conducting interviews and collecting oral histories. The data collected in this course then informs the visual and physical design solutions that SAIC degree students produced in several Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) degree classes. Youth in Lawndale Civic Design developed and nurtured their observational skills, gathered oral histories, and collaborated with college-age and graduate-level students at SAIC. This collaboration provides a reciprocal benefit to both Lawndale youth and SAIC students: It gives youth an opportunity to visually communicate the impact of neighborhood gas stations on their community while offering SAIC students experience in developing resident-led, community design solutions.


Image provided by AIADO

The SAIC Design @ Homan Square class operates as a “pro bono” design consultancy for residents of the North Lawndale neighborhood, offering solutions for a broad range of matters that residents bring, matters, both simple and complex. The objective of the class is not to produce “objects,” but actionable solutions. While these solutions may take the form of built objects, they may also take the form of social programming or campaigning. In the fall 2020 WA|K-H collaboration, SAIC Degree Students engaged with youth living near and using the Homan-Harrison gas station to develop designs that address issues of safety and walkability in the area. Together they created a comprehensive plan for the intersection, which will be executed in the spring 2021 semester.

Design Action: North Lawndale

This interdisciplinary course will address and highlight North Lawndale’s current initiatives and build upon the analysis of previous SAIC actions in North Lawndale to propose, collaboratively with community organizations and youth groups, a method for sustained development and trust. The studio will aim at answering the following question: how can designers and artists work with local agents, social activists, artisans, business owners, and contractors to develop interactive and creative programs?

From a multidisciplinary and participatory perspective, Design Action: Crossing Island, the 2020 iteration of SAIC’s Design Action Studio, imagined constructs — real or fictional, systems or rooms — to define the future of urban navigation, allowing for the definition of one’s personal identity in the city, separate from others, yet acknowledging and respecting the comfort of others.