some of the chest thumping and bravado that happens and I didn’t know much or care about drugs or guns. There were no other options than using my intellect and skills to succeed. For others without extreme intellect or pro-athlete level skills the options to achieve success are vastly reduced. You either join the military, work for the government or find a job in a more labor intensive job and for the most part those jobs are in logistics. Jobs like truck driving, heavy freight, or parcel delivery. But this assumes you have a clean record. If you don’t most of the options are reduced down to either going back to crime or maybe a minimum wage job. To be frank many feel the government makes money off of poor black and brown people being in jail so you don’t see a big push to change this.
Dawveed Scully is a Senior Urban Designer, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Chicago. A graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture, Dawveed grew up on the South Side of Chicago, led the MUDD21 students on a memorable tour of IIT, Hyde Park, Washington Park and Woodlawn, and introduced us to key community members.
One thing that is positive is that the life does seem to be coming back in some places. New opportunities using our cultural and creative capital have started to create a creative economy, and anchors like the University of Chicago have turned around their stance to really engage the community in a much more collaborative way. Artist and activist Theaster Gates as created some very interesting programs to give people a reason to go to the South Side. Projects like the Arts Incubator, Black Cinema house, and the Stony Island Arts Bank provide a unique experience that people are willing to cross town to reach. While the efforts of Theaster Gates and the efforts of others are greatly appreciated, it’s tough to overcome five decades of steady decline. The Barack Obama Presidential Center is a place that has so much potential energy that it could have a big impact on the mid-South Side community and the city as a whole. There is such gravity to the idea that the President of the United States believes in us. He believes in our community and our people. That this place can be the physical embodiment of his beliefs and ideologies and demonstrate how they can be part of revitalizing the American city is a big game changer. And while presidential libraries aren’t typically seen as anchors for economic development, this could be a unique opportunity to create something that can be a catalyst in a place that desperately needs it and spark investment in the community that hasn’t seen investment in decades. The great Olmsteddesigned parks of Jackson Park, Washington Park and Midway Plaisance that helped shape American cities could rise up and potentially surpass the other great Olmsted parks like Prospect Park and Central Park in terms of being an asset for the community, the city, and the nation. The Barack Obama Presidential Center could be that catalyst that turns around the way the city and the nation see the South Side and how the South Side sees itself. Shifting the perspective from a place that is seen as being negative and violent to a place where creativity and innovation once again influence the nation and the world.
“The Barack Obama Presidential Center could be that catalyst that turns around the way the city and the nation see the South Side and how the South Side sees itself”
Master of Urban Development
Published on Apr 26, 2016
City Visions: Method & Design Chicago | Berlin | Sydney International Studio workshops from the Masters of Urban Development & Design degree...