Welcome to “Bridging the Distance,” a People’s Spot for Albany Park: a place where people from the neighborhood can meet a neighbor or hang out and relax.

A “People Spot” is a social space for people to gather and interact. People Spots take over street parking spaces on commercial streets in Chicago neighborhoods. They are permitted through the Chicago Department of Transportation “Make Way For People” program, and are design to last several years. People Spots are free and open to anyone, but are typically located in areas with lots of shops as an amenity for pedestrians. Chicago’s People Spot “season” is May 1 to November 30.

Albany Park’s People Spot has been designed, planned, and engineered for permit by teenagers in Territory’s design team programs. Our urban design team started with concept development in summer 2016. Our Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 teams handled community engagement, schematic design and design development. Our Summer 2017 design-build interns did construction drawings for permit. The people spot is constructed out of simple materials: wood decking, paint, stain, chain link fence posts and fence hardware. The design is modular so that it can be easily assembled, moved and reconfigured by young people, and fit to different sites in our neighborhood.

After three pop-up community engagement events, the team focused their design on the concepts of play, hanging with friends, meeting a stranger, and chilling. We want the people spot to be a place where neighbors can meet, young people can relax, and where our design teams can host special events for young people and their families.

In September 2017 over fifteen volunteers helped us cut, drill, stain and paint all the people spot modules. In December we assembled the whole people spot indoors for the first time, using a timer to help us create a quality assurance plan for our debut installation.

Funding for the project came from the 33rd Ward through the City of Chicago Year of Public Art 50×50 Neighborhood Arts Program. Our people spot is permitted through the City of Chicago Department of Transportation’s Make Way For People Program. Our architecture and engineering partners include Goodfriend Magruder Structure LLC, CannonDesign, Open Hand Studio, and Canopy a + d. Our youth-led fabrication of the people spot modules was supported by a Collaborative Action Grant from Enterprise Community Partners.

In fall 2018 we surveyed the site and established an installation plan. This spring our team is installing the people spot with help from Skender and a crew of volunteers.

Volunteers are encouraged to join us to sort, clean, move, lay out, anchor, shim, and raise the seating, re-paint and re-stain parts as needed, and fill the planters with drought tolerant plants. Once installed, the people spot will be available for social activities and events from May to November 2019. Contact Territory for more info, or check the blog or our social media for the public Barn-Raising schedule.

Thanks to our neighbors in Albany Park and our funders for your support of Territory’s People Spot. This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.