The Chicago Streetscape Program for beautification of commercial districts offers great opportunity to reinforce cultural identity.
Jacobs Ryan Associates (JRA) designed streetscape elements for the 79th Street Corridor from Ashland to Wallace including street trees, fenced planters, and decorative pavements. To develop its design elements, JRA researched the area’s urban history, a prominent African American Garret Morgan for whom Morgan Street was named, and cultural symbols and patterns from two significant cloths of the Akan people of Ghana. Kente cloth is a hand woven ceremonial cloth while Adinkra symbols are stamped on to cloth to convey various meanings. The patterns and colors based on Kente cloth are evident as the background of the pole mounted community identifier (shown above), while an Adinkra symbol meaning “Welcome” is displayed in the center. Other Adinkra symbols are incorporated into the paving design for the streetscape. A kiosk at the corner of Morgan and 79th Street celebrates the community, its heroes and its African heritage.
JRA presented preliminary designs to the Mayor’s Landscape Committee and worked with the Chicago Landscape Ordinances in order to maximize the impact of new shade trees for the community.
Client: Chicago Department of Transportation; Engineers: Soodan & Associates, Inc; Graphic Content: A Perfect Sign