For more than a century, Chicago architects have had a love affair with the North Shore’s idyllic bedroom communities. For renowned arts and crafts architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, his private Idaho was Lake Forest, and the estate he built there named Ragdale.
These days the estate operates as a retreat for 150 creative types selected yearly to spend time away from their regular lives to get their creative juices flowing. In 2013, architects became part of the circle, and thus began the annual revisualization of the Ragdale Ring.
Built in 1912, the ring is an outdoor performance space — a useful thing to have when you’ve got a house full of artists, performing and otherwise. And annually, an architecture firm is selected to transform the ring to match their vision.
The 2017 winner is TEAM, from Ann Arbor, Michigan. A group of TEAM members will get to spend a few weeks at Ragdale practicing their craft and reliving the salad days of 20th Century Lake Forest.
A press release follows.
The Adrian Smith Prize for the 2017 Ragdale Ring goes to “LIVING PICTURE” by T+E+A+M
Ragdale, the acclaimed artists’ residency in Lake Forest, announces the winning design of the fifth annual Ragdale Ring competition. Amidst a field of national and international submissions, T+E+A+M, a young, internationally recognized architectural collaborative based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was selected by jury for their proposal of LIVING PICTURE– a contemporary interpretation of the original Ragdale Ring garden theatre designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw in 1912.
The winning T+E+A+M exclaims, “We are thrilled to receive the Adrian Smith Prize for the 2017 Ragdale Ring. In its short history, this competition has produced an exciting series of experimental projects, and we’re honored to join the ranks of past winners. We look forward to our residency, meeting the other fellows, and watching our project come to life through public programming.”
Historical elements from the original Ragdale Ring appear on lightweight objects stacked and spread throughout the grounds. Blending a historic scene with its contemporary counterpart, LIVING PICTURE recreates Shaw’s 1912 garden stage design as digital imagery nestled among the trees and buildings of the Ragdale grounds. The effect is a vivid visual space where images and objects overlap, align, and misregister. Members of the audience
become performers as they weave between the scenic objects and sit on platforms at their base. A taller grouping of objects draws attention toward the stage where the historic imagery merges with the natural surrounding.
LIVING PICTURE is designed for the convergence of three key approaches—from the Ragdale House, from the parking lot, and from the Barn House. Visitors traveling along each path encounter a view of the historic Ragdale Ring, reconstructed as digital imagery overlaid onto large stacked objects. The clearest image of the original Ring appears when one
approaches from the House, creating a connection between Ragdale’s past and its current visitors. This unified picture breaks down as one enters the seating area and perceives
the images spread across multiple objects. This layered imagery expands the boundary of the proscenium, drawing audience members into the space of performance.
The overall arrangement of objects creates an open space for audience members to gather. Seven clusters along the edge of the clearing provide shaded seating areas with cushioned platforms. Cones and cylinders to the sides form wings where performers can enter from offstage. All the objects except the platforms are hollow, allowing for storage of blankets and equipment that can be accessed from behind the stage.
“T+E+A+M’s proposal stood out because it honors the legacy of the original Ragdale Ring by integrating it directly into a cotemporary exploration of image, space, and performance. Both visitors and residents will be immersed in the history of the site and the continuing narrative of the project all summer. We are excited for T+E+A+M to realize their proposal and expect their experience will be as rewarding and productive as ours was last year” says Molly Hunker and Greg Corso of SPORTS, winning designers of the 2016 Ragdale Ring.
Juror Zurich Esposito, Executive Vice President of AIA Chicago comments, “Living Picture is visually engaging, drawing references from nature and from postmodern architecture, and extremely flexible. It will provide infinite staging possibilities that will certainly create moments of magic for Ragdale’s outdoor setting.”
“The scale and flexibility of the solution is a wonderful fit for the dynamic character of Ragdale’s population. The absence of formal audience/performer hierarchical space and the compelling layering of historic site context and contemporary abstract imagining leaves an incredibly generous and rich space for creating and experiencing new work. The solution expresses an inherently collaborative spirit that recalls the unifying and celebratory intentions of the original Ring,” states Anna Arellanes Wirth, von Weise Associates
T+E+A+M is a collaboration between Thom Moran, Ellie Abrons, Adam Fure, and Meredith Miller. They are a collective of four young, internationally-recognized designers with extensive experience in practice and teaching – currently based at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. They have been invited to exhibit work at the 2012 and 2016 Venice Biennales, Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Boston Society of Architects, Van Alen Institute, Center for Architecture, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, SCI-Arc, the Architectural Association, the A+D Gallery, the Beijing Biennale, the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Biennale, and ArtPrize Grand Rapids. They hold professional licensure and have completed numerous residential and hospitality interiors in New York, Virginia, and Michigan as well as full-scale installations in Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Venice. Their work has been published in Log, Avery Review, The Journal of Architectural Education, MONU, Triple Canopy, Project Journal, Thresholds, Scapegoat: Architecture, Pidgin, Landscape, Political Economy, and ARPA Journal.
Notable awards and recognition among the members includes:
• Architectural League Prize (Two winners)
• Graham Foundation Grant for Exhibitions (with Possible Mediums) • Graham Foundation Grant for Research
• Muschenheim Fellowship
• A. Alfred Taubman Fellowships in Architecture (Two winners)
• Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellowships (Two winners)
• ACSA Creative Achievement Award (with Possible Mediums)
• American Institute of Architects Upjohn Research Initiative grant