Assembly Zones

Current research and project development step by step efforts are documented in the Assembly Zones Tab of my Portfolio list, with additional program-wide updates taking place at the main Assembly Zones project page at the Bridge Chicago website page. Please join the email newsletter for details on future programming.

Disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that poor, Black, Brown and Latin populations in Chicago have suffered greater numbers of infection and death than the rest of the population. While clearly a matter of systemic racism and historic disinvestment, we also view this situation as at least partially a practical problem of access to information and crisis resources.

According to Pew Research Center's first survey of phone ownership, 19% of americans (around 60 million people), don’t own smart phones. According to another Pew survey, an astounding 23% remain without access to home wifi, and similar numbers are reported for households who do not own a computer at home of any kind. We have always argued that, just as there exist food deserts, a vast number of Americans also live in “information deserts” that present just as serious a public health challenge.

Prior to the onset of the pandemic, I proposed, and began working with a team of Bridge artists, to develop the pilot program of design-built “assembly zones” throughout cities where it can be helpful to communities in need. Demarcated using design principles easily replicable in a variety of environments, with the goal of creating a recognizable public space along the lines of a bus hut or phone booth, we seek to provide a design solution — such as a subject-marked pull tab a la a deli counter service tab for those seeking help for a variety of traumas such as domestic violence, addiction, mental illness, eviction, hunger poverty, or the status of current pandemic shelter orders, for example — to provide on-the-spot information resources in areas where technological solutions may be sparse.

Additionally, these spaces will seek to alleviate loneliness and isolation among the general public, with signage instructing visitors that listening and interaction is expected, and especially among vulnerable populations such as elderly and LGBTQ youth.

Drawing on notions of performance as instructional and interactive choreography, the range of currently-extant “rule-based” shared public spaces, and precursors such as the Sidewalk Talk program (, these zones will function as public engagement stations freely utilizable on their own by members of the public, or programmed to provide interaction both within the zones, and that of any potential host spaces.

Supported in part by funding from The Chicago Community Foundation in partnership with Design Trust Chicago and Little Village Chamber of Commerce.

Core Project Team

Bob Faust, artist and Director, Faust, Ltd.

Michelle Kranicke, dance artist and Co-Director, SITE/less

Mat Rappaport, artist and Associate Professor, Columbia College Chicago

Andrew Schachman, Co-Founder, Fieldwork and Executive, Floating Museum

David Sundry, artist and Co-Director, SITE/less

Michael Workman, artist, Editor-in-Chief & Founder, Bridge

Currently Committed Advisory Individuals

Lynn Basa, artist and Founder, Corner Project

Jane Beachy, Artistic Director, Illinois Humanities Council

Paula Danoff, President & CEO Evanston Art Center

Katherine Darnstadt, AIA, LEED AP, Founder + Principal Architect, Latent Design

Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D., Executive Director, Threewalls

Lisa Yun Lee, Executive Director, National Public Housing Museum, Co-Chairs of the Arts & Culture Transition Committee for Mayor Elect Lori Lightfoot

Kate Lorenz, Executive Director, Hyde Park Art Center

Angela McClanahan, Faculty, University of Edinbergh, Royal Anthropological Institute Fellow

Carson Poole, Community Organizer, North River Commission

Maria Flora PT, Owner. RISE, Age-u-cate Certified Master Trainer, Dementia

Currently Committed Host Sites / Orgs

Corner Project
DePaul Art Museum
Evanston Art Center
Howard Brown Health Centers
National Public Housing Museum
North River Commission
RISE Six Corners