For a building like ICA GreenRise, which hosts social service providers that reach over a thousand people weekly, every day seems like an open house. However, during Chicago Architecture Foundation’s annual Open House Chicago tour, architecture buffs, curiosity seekers, and passersby alike are drawn from across Chicago to marvel at buildings which might otherwise remain a mystery.
ICA’s current community programs work at the intersection of environmental and social justice. Our programs also aim to support and showcase other organizations and individuals who are working on transforming our current inequitable systems. ICA launched a new event series called Conversations of Social Justice, which highlights local resource organizations so that Uptown residents and workers have the opportunity to further connect regarding services, partnerships, and volunteer opportunities.
ICA’s mission of building “a just and equitable society in harmony with planet Earth” begins here at home with the ICA GreenRise, our national landmark building. In May 2018 the Chicago Community Loan Fund extended to ICA a $3.5 million loan for the purposes of anchoring the total funding needed to begin work on the historic restoration of the building.
Since ICA’s mission is “to build a just and equitable society in harmony with planet earth,” it begins here at home with our Chicago Landmark building itself being a demonstration of our mission. Indeed, that’s what was envisioned when the building was rebranded as the ICA GreenRise and launched the solar panel project in 2014. This was a major step toward this vision as ICA now generates 25% of the building’s consumed power from solar.
Interior view of new atrium and new conference center in ICA GreenRise
On May 4, 2017, nearly 100 attendees gathered at the ICA GreenRise for an abridged performance of My Soul Cries Out: Stop! The play was written, directed, and produced by Denise Gathings, a Chicago Police Officer and lifelong resident of the Fifth City neighborhood on Chicago’s west side. Gathings’s aim in creating the play was to spark community transformation throughout Chicago. The play’s content drew directly from her day-to-day interactions with local youth as a community police officer.
Fifty years ago the ICA launched Fifth City as its first human development project in East Garfield Park, Chicago. Today ICA is proud to host a new community play developed by Denise Gathings who grew up in Fifth City as the daughter of Ruth Carter (who served 40 years as the Fifth City Preschool Director).
ICA staff have been thinking critically on how to ensure the future of ICA GreenRise, ICA’s historic 8-story Uptown building. In addition to immediate concerns, such as completing an intensive replacement and repair of the plumbing system, there have been great strides to finalize a plan to sustainably renovate and restore the building to its original grandeur.