Illinois Tech Landscape Architecture Students Design Sculptural Fence for Bronzeville’s Great Migration Sculpture Garden

Photo courtesy of Ron Henderson.

Illinois Tech Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) students Jiaming “Jamie” Sun and Yu “Fish” Si designed a sculptural fence for the Great Migration Sculpture Garden in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

The Great Migration Sculpture Garden is named for the experience of the great migration of African-American people from the South to the North between the years of 1916s and 1970s. African Americans left the South during the harsh times of the Jim Crow era. The migration brought the word of opportunity to those still in the South and a better way of life in the North. African Americans were able to create a new way of life bringing their culture and experiences to become entrepreneurs, newspaper owners, doctors, bank owners, artists, creators of Jazz and Blues and more. This garden includes a commissioned solar pyramid by Shala—a Chicago artist whose work investigates culture, energy, and public art—that will create and house energy used to light the garden and harness electricity for later use. Gallery Guichard, in conjunction with the Purpose Foundation, received the formerly vacant lot from the City of Chicago to transform it into an exterior gallery with regular rotating sculpture exhibits.

The garden is enclosed by a lively fence designed by MLA students Sun and Si with two repeating modules of red, orange, and gray cutout shapes. Working with faculty advisors Ron Henderson, professor and director of the Landscape Architecture + Urbanism Program and Frank Flury, professor of architecture, Sun and Si designed the 240′ fence as a modular construction with little material waste. An initial panel mockup was fabricated using Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router in the College of Architecture shop and the final fence was fabricated, painted, and installed with Bronzeville’s Gallery Guichard and neighborhood youth. The work of the students was supported by a grant from Provost Frances Bronet.

Sun is a 2017–18 Driehaus Fellow in the Landscape Architecture program at Illinois Tech. Si was a Driehaus Fellow in the 2016–17 academic year.