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Architecture of Community: Edra Soto


Architecture of Community:
Reflecting on Lessons from Doshi

In conjunction with Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People, Alphawood Exhibitions and Wrightwood 659 partnered with Monica Chadha of Civic Projects Architecture, and Spirit of Space, to re-imagine key principles of Doshi’s work in the contemporary context of Chicago neighborhoods. Monica joins three Chicago natives, activist Asiaha Butler, artist Edra Soto, and journalist and author Natalie Moore as they reflect on their engagements with Doshi’s approach to low cost housing, urban planning, and vernacular architecture.

Rather than a traditional tour, the series Architecture of Community illustrates the duality of exhibition viewing, extending principles from the gallery to the places we inhabit. How do our own memories and cultural associations shape the reading of an exhibition? In turn, how are we shaped by that encounter?

About the Participants

Born in Puerto Rico, Edra Soto is an interdisciplinary artist, and co-director of the outdoor project space THE FRANKLIN. THE FRANKLIN Collection includes over 200 artworks by local, national and international artists is also at the Garfield Park location. Most recently, she was the award winner of the inaugural Foundwork Artist Prize. Soto’s work has been included in three exhibitions supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s International Connections Fund: A Chicago / Puerto Rico exhibition at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico; Smart Museum (Illinois) and a Chicago / Brazil exchange to take place in Salvador, Brazil in 2020.

Monica Chadha, AIA, LEED AP, is founder and principal of Civic Projects Architecture, a Chicago-based practice with a social impact focus. Prior to starting her firm, she served as founding director of Impact Detroit and led project teams at Studio Gang and Ross Barney Architects, where she was integral to the design of award-winning, civic scale buildings. Her approach to design is highly participatory, going beyond architecture to engage in strategic planning, development, and revitalization. Civic Projects is engaged in a wide variety of work: including their collaboration with Ralph Appelbaum Associates on the Obama Presidential Center Museum and planning and design for GCE, a private nonprofit high school’s downtown campus. In 1996 she worked at the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Research & Studies in Environmental Design as a Research Associate in the Office of Balkrishna Doshi, on the development of housing prototypes for low-income communities.

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