Material reuse was a key consideration for the project. The PVC frame for the portal was reassembled at each alley site each month and then disassembled at the end of each event. The frame will be reused for future ACTIVATE events. The vinyl graphics produced for each event will serve as temporary artworks throughout the Loop and for various Chicago Loop Alliance events and will eventually be upcycled into tote bags to be sold as a fundraising mechanism.
Each month during the summer of 2017, The Chicago Loop Alliance ACTIVATE program transforms iconic Loop alleys into pop-up urban experiences, featuring art, music, and more in unique urban settings. The architect worked in collaboration with the client to develop themes for each event celebrating different aspects of Chicago alley history and culture: play, waste, energy and illicit activities. The architect created a different 16’x16’ Portal that served as the entry for each event. The Portal consisted of a perspectival photo montage merging contemporary and historic images of alley activities related to each event theme that event attendees had to pass through in order to enter.
The photomontages aligned seemlessly with their surrounding contexts at each event. Supported by a lightweight PVC frame with LED lighting, the Portal was assembled and tipped up into place. The square center of each image was set back from the main portal to create a point of entry for event attendees. The side panels of the void and the set back center contained a narrative related to each event's theme. The dialogue around Chicago alleys accumulated over the summer as the center graphics and narratives from previous installations reappeared at subsequent events.