We are pleased to announce that student Alex Serbanescu (second-year MArch) is the recipient of this year's Schiff Foundation Fellowship in writing.
First granted in 1989 and administered by the Department of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Schiff Foundation Fellowship is given annually to one student from either the University of Illinois at Chicago, The Illinois Institute of Technology, or The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Serbanescu’s essay, titled “Destined for Failure,” follows a peculiar condition of modernity that he defines as “the gut feeling that the very ground underneath you is shifting and may fall out at any moment.” As he explains, “Thanks to the tendency of Chicago urbanism to physically etch stories of power and control into the ground, we may find case studies that allow us to understand displacement more deeply. The Robert Taylor Homes, constructed in the late 1950s, erased two miles of slums in the city’s south side, replacing them with the world’s largest housing project. By 2005, all these buildings were torn down. While contemporary thought portrays this story as one of modernist ideals gone awry, research suggests that the conditions of failure were embedded in the design of the project itself. The resultant environment was between a prison and a home, and created the late-twentieth-century carceral subject. This essay explores how policy framework and modernist design solutions were weaponized to create a district destined for failure and how its residents made it a community nonetheless.”
Image: Figure 1: Aerial Image: Pershing to 54th Street [map], HistoricAerial.com