Black Cinema House Live

Rebuild Foundation

Funding Received: 2011
Chicago, IL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
December 6, 2011

Internationally renowned artist Theaster Gates is using his ArtPlace grant to repurpose a two story, mixed-use building in Chicago into Live/Work space for film- and media-based artists of color. Gates updates us on the process:

As of today, scaffolding clads the North wall, fencing and green scrim borders the perimeter of 6901, and dumpsters are full of debris, mortar, and brick; all resonating that construction has begun and is moving fast. As I review the project schedule that's in front of me, I am hopeful and excited that programming inside the Black Cinema House will start in Spring 2012.  We had our first construction meeting and walkthrough yesterday with Structures Construction, our general contractor for the rebuild, and a lot was on the table to discuss.

The way to start the rehab of a building is to first secure the structure. In this case the masonry repair was the first to get started. They began the demo and rebuild of the parapets and the weakest facade of the building, the east wall, that needed to be rebuilt by 50%. While on the roof, we worked on a detail of the new parapet and felt that it needed compliment the existing copper bay and fascia.  In a walkthrough with the mason and GC we talked about the historic masonry details that the building had and were important to retain.  The manufacturing of brick has standardized over time and has proved difficult or cost prohibitive to match details of buildings over half a century old.

For example at the corner of the building there is a 45 degree jog in the wall, the original brick was manufactured with a 45 degree angle in it. This, unfortunately, is no longer available in the market.  Another archaic feature is rounded brick at the main entrance of the building. We discovered this when removing layers of plaster and paint. History of craftsmanship slowly reveals itself the more we carefully uncover the building. Hopefully we do it well so that these historic features of the neighborhood begin to shine once again.

While work is progressing at the 6901 building, our shop in the Fulton Industrial Corridor has been busy rethinking and reshaping the materials that originally came out of the deconstruction of its interior.   From furniture, to art, to performance, these materials have so much more life ahead of them.