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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

Hackathon Will Help Lawndale Figure Out How To Use Vacant Lots Under The Pink Line

The event will create prototypes for projects, pop-ups, and installations that will turn vacant lots beneath the Pink Line into community spaces.

The Central Park Pink Line station in North Lawndale.
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NORTH LAWNDALE — At Saturday’s urban design hackathon, residents of North Lawndale are invited to collaborate with architects and designers to draft blueprints for reimagining the underutilized vacant space beneath the Pink Line.

Hackathons are most commonly seen in tech, where teams of coders and developers get creative and compete to design an app, a site or a program from the ground up within a limited time.

But at Saturday’s Urban Hack, participants will spend the day dreaming up solutions to the abundance of empty lots in the area and designing community-driven prototypes with the assistance of experts for a series of projects, installations and pop-ups that could bring those lots to life as gathering places for the neighborhood.

The designs produced at the hackathon would support the development of Under The Grid, a project led by artist Haman Cross that will transform the lots underneath the elevated railroads connecting four Pink Line stations in Lawndale into a continuously evolving art exhibition and walkable greenway connecting different parts of the neighborhood.

Cross said some of the sites for the project could become a rock garden, a graffiti park or host a decommissioned train car that could be converted into a pop-up venue.

Urban Hack will start with observational walks through the lots beneath the Pink Line. Then, there will be a discussion with a panel of social impact designers, with a keynote presentation by MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and professor of landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, Walter Hood.

Then, participants and panelists will get to work on designing ideas together for the Under The Grid project.

Urban Hack begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday Feb. 22  at the Lawndale Christian Health Center Senior Center, 3745 W. Ogden Ave. The event is free, and a continental breakfast and lunch will be served. Register for Urban Hack at EventBrite.

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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