Standards Variance
Organized by Brandon Alvendia and Greg Ruffing
Public Access
May12-June 10, 2017

Standards Variance is a group show of speculative proposals around what is possible for urban space (empty lots, abandoned buildings, storefronts, green-space, etc.) in Chicago.

Something radical?
Something practical?
Something fantastical?

What would it look like? What would happen there? How would it function? What needs or wants might it help fulfill that perhaps aren’t currently being addressed?

Standards Variance considers what the future might hold for urban space in this new era of volatile market optimism, political turbulence, and widespread uncertainty. It seeks to open a discussion around speculation of land, resources, and real estate – typically centered on economic outcomes and future profit potential – toward a more expansive and inclusive set of concerns derived from a grassroots level. This project is not necessarily against development – but it is, in many ways, anti-developer.

The participants were invited to devise alternative forms of “speculation” that are rooted in a local right to self-determination: the latent desires, aspirations, and needs of communities. Such perspectives are often overlooked, ignored, or given lip-service in top-down, bureaucratic urban planning and “placemaking” – where real estate developers, planners, markets, and governments are not adequately accountable to residents. This unjust lack of voice becomes especially devastating in the many urban neighborhoods dealing with gentrification and displacement.

 
 
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