In 2013, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts launched a program dedicated to revitalizing St. Louis. Dubbed PXSTL (an acronym that derives its chosen letters from the Pulitzer, Sam Fox School, and St. Louis), it was conceived by representatives from each institution to explore how small-scale creative endeavors can incite urban change.
For the 2016–2017 iteration of PXSTL, designer Amanda Williams and artist Andres Luis Hernandez will convert a vacant lot in the city’s Grand Center neighborhood into a temporary venue. Throughout the next year, both designers will teach an architecture studio as visiting faculty in the Sam Fox School’s Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design. In their course, graduate students will help to implement the winning design and encourage community engagement. Their design will be realized in the spring of 2017, and will begin hosting events that summer.
Williams is a Chicago-based architect that creates projects focusing on color, race, and space. Past projects include her “Color(ed) Theory” series, which paints the exteriors of houses threatened by demolition with vivid colors, drawing attention to the phenomenon of historically black communities being undervalued and ultimately razed for new development. The award-winning professor has a B.Arch. from Cornell University and currently serves as an adjunct associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, in Chicago. She also participated in this year's Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Hernandez, also based in Chicago, co-founded the Revival Arts Collective, a network of Chicagoans dedicated to using arts and culture as an impetus for community redevelopment. The politically driven artist is an associate professor and the art department chair at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, from which he holds a master's in art education. Prior to that, he earned a B.Arch. from Cornell University.
The panel of jurors, comprising representatives from both the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Sam Fox School, “made their decision based on the strength and creativity of their past work, innovation of approach, and the potential to invite public engagement,” according to a PXSTL press release.
While Hernandez, Williams, and their students are building the venue, representatives from the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and Sam Fox School will assist with community engagement. This fall, both organizations will host a forum to solicit public feedback.