Although commissioned for a temporary installation, Thick City Pavilion was designed to have a life beyond the event. It was designed for modular assembly and disassembly and utilized only durable materials that would last through subsequent installations. Rather than being demolished after Chicago Idea's Week, the Thick City Pavilion was disassembled and stored, awaiting a new home.
The Thick City Pavilion was a temporary pavilion installed on Pioneer Court for 3-weeks during Chicago Ideas Week in 2015. Going back to the “Raising of Chicago” that elevated the city out of the mud, a close study of the Pioneer Court site reveals a layering of urban activity that is uniquely Chicago. Yet despite the fundamental role this layering plays in the choreography and performance of the city, it is a characteristic that Chicagoan’s take for granted, and visitors remain unaware. The Thick City Pavilion therefore calls attention to the stack of infrastructural strata upon which the city rises. By challenging the conventional notion of Chicago as “flat,” the pavilion looks to reframe an all-too-familiar reading of the city in order to open up a dialogue about its future.
The reflective exterior of the pavilion invites passersby to explore several more—albeit temporary—layers of Chicago’s urban strata. The pavilion’s interior spaces—composed of layers of colorfully painted foam of varying densities—encourage reflection on Chicago’s laminated composition by offering a range of surfaces and spaces upon which to sit, climb, read, chat and reflect. Four super-sized WiFi balloons float above, inviting users to gaze up at the city around them, while reflecting back upon the layers below on which it has grown.