Transformation: Chicago's Stony Island Arts Bank opens as art centre

Chicago's Stony Island Arts Bank opens as art centre

Chicago’s Stony Island Arts Bank opens as art centre
Stony Island Arts Bank reopened this week as part of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennal.courtesy Hedrich Blessing
(Image credit: Tom Harris,Rebuild Foundation)

The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennal (opens in new tab) is not just about the ‘new’, and the present and future of architecture; it is also a celebration of the North American city’s iconic existing building stock. The reopening of the Stony Island Arts Bank during the Biennal's launch festivities is a case in point.

Built in 1923 to a design by William Gibbons Uffendell, the bank was once the heart of a vibrant Chicago neighbourhood, but had in recent years fallen into disrepair. Enter artist, urban planner and Rebuild Foundation (opens in new tab) founder Theaster Gates Jr, who is behind the building’s makeover and relaunch this weekend.

The newly restored Stony Island Arts Bank (opens in new tab) is part of the non-profit Rebuild Foundation’s ambitious program in the area and is set to become a beating heart for the local community once more. 

Acting as an exhibition and events centre, and a multi-disciplinary platform for art, architecture and black culture, the space opens to the public with an installation by Portuguese artist Carlos Bunga. Apart from temporary shows, the centre will also house a collection of more than 60,000 glass lantern slides from the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as the late producer and DJ Frankie Knuckles’ vinyl collection.

'This is a new kind of cultural amenity, a new kind of institution – a hybrid gallery, media archive and library, and community centre', says Gates. 'It is an institution of and for the South Side – a repository for African American culture and history, a laboratory for the next generation of black artists and culture-interested people; a platform to showcase future leaders, be they painters, educators, scholars, or curators.'

Chicago’s Stony Island Arts Bank opens as art centre

Built in 1923 to a design by William Gibbons Uffendell, the bank was once the heart of a vibrant Chicago neighbourhood, but had in recent years fallen into disrepair.

(Image credit: Tom Harris,Rebuild Foundation)

Chicago’s Stony Island Arts Bank opens as art centre

The founder of The Rebuild Foundation, Theaster Gates Jr, is behind the building’s makeover and relaunch this weekend. courtesy Hedrich Blessing

(Image credit: Steve Hall,Rebuild Foundation)

Chicago’s Stony Island Arts Bank opens as art centre

The newly restored Arts Bank is part of the non-profit Foundation’s ambitious program in the area, set to become a beating heart for the local community once more. courtesy Hedrich Blessing.

(Image credit: Steve Hall,Rebuild Foundation)

Chicago’s Stony Island Arts Bank opens as art centre

The space is an exhibition and events centre – a multi-disciplinary platform for art, architecture and black culture. courtesy Hedrich Blessing

(Image credit: Tom Harris,Rebuild Foundation)

Chicago’s Stony Island Arts Bank opens as art centre

'This is a new kind of cultural amenity, a new kind of institution – a hybrid gallery, media archive and library, and community centre', says Gates. Courtesy Hedrich Blessing

(Image credit: Steve Hall,Tom Harris,Rebuild Foundation)

Chicago’s Stony Island Arts Bank opens as art centre

The space opens to the public with an installation by Portuguese artist Carlos Bunga. Courtesy Hedrich Blessing

(Image credit: Steve Hall,Tom Harris,Rebuild Foundation)

Chicago’s Stony Island Arts Bank opens as art centre

The centre will also house a collection of more than 60,000 glass lantern slides from the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. courtesy Hedrich Blessing

(Image credit: Tom Harris,Rebuild Foundation)

INFORMATION

For more information visit Stony Island Arts Bank (opens in new tab)

Images courtesy Rebuild Foundation

ADDRESS

Stony Island Arts Bank
6760 S Stony Island Ave
Chicago, IL 60649

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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).