Pullman: Conscious Revitalization of the Overlooked

Pullman: Conscious Revitalization of the Overlooked

November 12, 2022 - January 29, 2023

CAB Studio at the Chicago Cultural Center

78 E. Washington Street, Chicago, IL

Free and open to the public 7 days a week from 10 a.m.— 5 p.m. 

The Chicago South Side neighborhood of Pullman is historically known as one of the first communities in the U.S. to be built as an industrial company town. Home to the Pullman Palace Car Company in the 1880s, Pullman was a model for corporate social engineering by a train baron whose failed experiment ignited union labor strikes and civil rights movements by the resident employees. Today, the remaining buildings are the focus of the neighborhood’s historical and architectural narrative—making the southern half of Pullman a recipient of investments to advance revitalization efforts. What about north Pullman? 

Although built around the same time as the southern part of Pullman, many Pullman’s northern historical buildings have been neglected and in need of restoration and repair; how do we determine what communities and buildings are allocated resources or what get prioritized? 

Pullman: Conscious Revitalization of the Overlooked by Chicago-based architect Armel Sagbohan visually maps the north and south sides of Pullman through a series of photographs and sketches that inform a speculative proposal for a master plan to address the divide between the two sides of the neighborhood. The photographs—a body of work spanning six years of repeated trips to Pullman—are built upon an immersive architectural methodology that captures the complex urban conditions of a town and the current patterns and nuances of daily life as it undergoes significant revitalization and redevelopment projects.

Sagbohan’s master plan and project proposals respond to the many modern urban challenges, including the direct impact of disinvestment in predominantly Black and low-income communities and the question of what we value and fight to preserve. How can architecture address these complex histories to imagine a future vision for northern Pullman? How do architects address revitalization in consideration of the unique needs of this neighborhood and the residents?

Armel Sagbohan is the founder of the Office for Urban Experiments (oux), a practice that seeks to illuminate underrepresented spaces and propose new designs tailored to the specific location. Through documentation and design, he strives to bring attention to traditionally overlooked neighborhoods. He is also an educator at the Illinois Institute of Technology where he teaches in the undergraduate program at the College of Architecture.

oux : Nevin Abdelghani, Ekaterina Bystrova, Sarah Kay Stephens 

Collaborator: Xinyan He