Justice Hotel and Just Desserts
Thanks to a beneficent grant from the amazing Joyce Foundation, we are working with artist/architect Amanda Williams, master carpenters Bryan Saner, Norman Teague, and Troy Briggs, Justice of the Pies chef Maya-Camille Broussard and grower Sarah Mallin to develop an artist/architect designed, cooperatively built, owned, and run hotel on the South Side that addresses economic and social issues through art.
Justice Hotel and Just Desserts has grown out of artist and architect Amanda Williams’s Color(ed) Theory which raises questions about value, eminent domain, and historical neglect through structural forces such as redlining and disinvestment. Color(ed) Theory sparked conversations about very messy, difficult, layered questions surrounding architecture and its role (or lack thereof) in shaping the potential for neighborhoods and cities to thrive. This commercial art project asks how art can best shape and generate both artistic value and monetary value to increase a neighborhood’s value for its inhabitants.
Justice Hotel and Just Desserts draw upon the threat of eminent domain in the Englewood neighborhood because of the Supreme Court’s Kelo vs. City of New London decision to allow city governments to take private land if it believes doing so will generate greater tax revenues or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner. The idea for the hotel and café was sparked by a libertarian’s comical response to the Supreme Court case. However 6018North, artist Amanda Williams, Justice of the Pie chef Maya-Camille Broussard, and Pyrite Sun chef Sarah Mallin reinterpret this idea by manifesting and building a space to redesign justice in the aftermath of Chicago’s landscape being “designed” via erasure, systemic neglect, racism, redlining, and an imbalance of resources.
The building and running of the hotel as an art project is foundational. Instead of gentrifying, we aim to empower the community to become agents in the process that so often moves them out. Amanda is working with bricks, the foundational block of architecture. What does a justice brick look like? How can we, brick by brick, build an architecture for economic and social justice? Since Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome typifies the 60s generation of sharing, this phase asks: What does a cooperative look like? To answer this question, the Summer Youth Employees (who themselves are prototypes of future youth workers of the hotel) will help build Williams’s prototypes. In addition, as part of this Summer ideation, we are developing a think-tank of developers, thought leaders, economists, community organizers, fundraisers, etc. while comprising a team of worker/owners.
The project’s mission is to work with rather than for the community. We aim to fill gaps and meet needs of the community by providing skills and creating jobs for youth who in turn design, build, work in, and manage the hotel. We build on artist and architect Amanda Williams’ work with a host of student architects and 6018North’s artisan craftsman mentor/apprenticeships with students to train youth in carpentry skills and video making to document the process. We also build on our partnership with local grower Pyrite Sun to supply produce and ingredients for the café and bar. As a hotel, it will showcase and integrate the work of emerging Chicago artists and architects. Like 6018North a different artist or architect designs each room. House as art; hotel as art.
Finally, the project challenges the typology of hotel architecture. The design phase innovatively questions architectural and economic conceptions of hotels. Since we know what artist and curator run spaces can look like, we now want to develop the blueprints to construct an artist and curator run hotel as a social justice endeavor that through its spatial, material, and localized conditions empowers its workers and its community. We ask: how can architecture design and articulate the embodiment of a new set of financial parameters that express ownership, management, and maintenance as an artistic and a cooperative endeavor?