Design With Company, a Chicago collaborative whose work focuses primarily on conceptual projects and exhibitions, was recently named the winner of the third-annual Ragdale Ring pavilion competition, hosted by the nonprofit Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Ill.
The juried competition tasked designers with offering an updated concept for a pavilion originally created for the property by early 20th–century architect Howard Van Doren Shaw to showcase the work of his wife, Frances Wells Shaw, a poet and playwright. Ragdale, the architect’s summer retreat, has functioned as an artist residency since 1976.
Design With Company’s concept calls for a box-style theater whose construction references the pitched roofs and other Arts and Crafts forms signature to the architect’s work across the greater Chicago area, which includes the historic Market Square in Lake Forest (1916) and the University of Chicago’s Quadrangel Club (1920). The studio chose wood because of its availability and ease of use in construction. Over-sized cushions with architectural forms (shown below) will be distributed as seating during performances and stored inside the closed-up stage when not in use.
The studio’s co-founders Allison Newmeyer, AIA, and Stewart Hicks, respectively a visiting and assistant professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, also drew inspiration from their forthcoming book, Mis-guided Tactics for Propriety Calibration. The text explores how Midwestern institutions and monuments achieve so-called architectural character by copying, scaling, and re-composing fragments of daily life (for example, the World's Only Corn Palace, in Mitchell, S.D.). “These are the same tactics that we used to transform Howard Van Doren Shaw’s buildings into new objects of celebration,” the pair told ARCHITECT in an email.
“The Ring will serve as a gathering place, enlivening the historic campus of Ragdale as a place of dynamic artistic and architectural experimentation,” said Zurich Esposito, executive vice president of AIA Chicago, in a statement. “When the season concludes, the Ring is ultimately biodegradable.”
The design team was awarded $15,000 and a design/build residency of up to three weeks that starts in in May. The pavilion is scheduled to open June 13.