Wight & Company was honored to be a part of The Department of Planning and Development’s Public Outdoor Plaza (POP!) program launched in early 2022 to help community-based organizations revitalize underutilized land along neighborhood retail corridors. The initiative is part of the Chicago Recovery Plan’s strategy for equitable economic recovery and support for thriving and safe communities. Our team participated in the development of two POP! Courts, POPGrove in the Garfield Park neighborhood and The Mahalia Jackson Court in the Chatham neighborhood.
The Mahalia Jackson Court is a colorful and inviting 8,500 sf public plaza and community space located at 79th and State Streets. Operated the Greater Chatham Initiative, and made possible through a $500,000 grant from the city’s Department of Planning and Development. This POP! Court transformed an empty corner lot into a vibrant gathering place that celebrates the rich cultural history of the Chatham neighborhood and provides a venue for artistic performances, community events, and educational programs. More importantly, each piece of the court from seating and fencing to murals and the sculpture was touched by local Chicago artists and community members. The plaza was named to honor the life and legacy of gospel icon Mahalia Jackson, who was also a resident of Chatham and provided the early soundtrack for the Chicago Black Arts Movement in the late 1960’s. Jackson is credited for inspiring many other artists and encouraging Dr. King at the March on Washington.
The excitement and engagement with the Chatham community and the design and construction teams were central to the success of this project. Wight & Company, as part of a dynamic team of architecture and construction firms, was selected through a design competition to provide construction management services for the execution of the project.