ICA staff member Caitlin Sarro was explaining the history of the Guide Suite, a holdover from the building’s time as a Kemper Insurance office, when a man wheeled in with a knowing look on his face. “It’s just like Joe had it set up,” he remarked, reminiscing of his days as an employee of Kemper Insurance in a time before ICA moved into the building, when there was no GreenRise at all.
It’s hidden histories like this that drive people to Open House Chicago, an annual event by Chicago Architecture Center. Spaces are laden with meaning, a concept echoed in the title of a performance art piece in the Guild Suite that same weekend. Charged Spaces/Changing Bodies, curated by Pivot Arts, was “a series of site-specific performances in two historic Uptown buildings,” which included Anna Martine Whitehead’s dance performance, Notes on Territory, at ICA GreenRise. Photos of the performance, which continued on to Lawrence House just across the street, can be seen on Pivot Arts’ Facebook page.
However, just as the title of the performance suggests, GreenRise is not only charged, but changing. It remains an incubator for innovative design, an experiment in adapting the historic into the cutting edge, in merging sustainable technology with vintage terracotta. At the head of the GreenRise Historic Restoration Project is Lesley Showers, whose voice resounded in the earbuds of visitors in the debut of an audio tour, produced by ICA for the tour. Curious readers can find and listen to the whole tour on our Soundcloud page.