Julia Di Castri and Katherine Simson
This project responds to the alarming fact that each year there is an estimated 2,000 homeless youths on the streets of Chicago. A lack of safe and stable housing exposes young people to a host of conditions that jeopardize their safety, compromise their physical health, and hinder their emotional well-being. This growing informal community needs a framework of support, a physical and social infrastructure of safe zones. The Rookery Project proposes an evolving network of youth-oriented spaces, large and small, that are integrated into the city through close proximity to CTA station. Larger facilities—what we’re calling “Rookeries—are residentially based and offer resources to help these youths foster a sense of stability and community. This scheme presents a speculative prototype for one of the youth shelters in the 29th Ward. Housing units and a rooftop garden sit on top of a sprawling community center. Commercial spaces and other public programs at street level, along with easy access to the CTA green line and an iconic presence along the Eisenhower Expressway, bring a dynamic, micro-urbanism to the community.