Posts tagged with "Ragdale Ring":

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T+E+A+M tapped to design this year’s Ragdale Ring outdoor theater

For the past four years, Ragdale, an artist residency in Chicago’s North Shore, has asked young architects to reimagine a historic garden stage that was once a focal point of its property. In these short years, the Ragdale Ring competition, and the accompanying Adrian Smith Prize, have proven to be architecturally adventurous, and often playfully eccentric.

This year’s iteration will be built by the Ann Arbor, Michigan–based T+E+A+M, a collaboration among young designers Thom Moran, Ellie Abrons, Adam Fure, and Meredith Miller. Their proposal, entitled LIVING PICTURE, superimposes images of the original 1912 Ragdale Ring onto a set of lightweight objects spread throughout the grounds. The scene of the original ring will be an immersive, if not surreal, space for the audience to become part of the theatrical setting. The varied scale of the objects also allows for the audience to position itself in relation to the stage, either sitting on or standing among the installation. The shapes, which make up the stage itself, will blend historic imagery with the lush surroundings of the property.

While the imagery on the installation will mostly be seen as disparate yet related images, audience members approaching from the Ragdale House will see the entire original Ring snap into view. Watching from the other approaches, viewers will discover the scene as a series of separate vignettes of the original.

“At the beginning of this year we suspended our individual practices and committed fully to T+E+A+M, but the fact that the four of us have practiced individually is one of the unique strengths of our collaboration,” Fure explained. “Each of us has different audiences through our previous work’s engagement with conversations inside and outside the discipline.

The objects will range in form, making up seating areas and platforms for performances. Arranged in seven clusters, most of the objects will also be hollow to provide storage. Their arrangement centralizes the audience while providing masked areas where performers can enter from stage-side.

The project will be built in late May, to be ready for four performances starting in mid-July. T+E+A+M, along with a group of workers, will live at Ragdale for 18 days to build the installation. The Adrian Smith Prize, sponsored by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, provides $15,000 for the construction.

The members of T+E+A+M are not strangers to exhibition and installation building. Between the four members, their work has been shown in multiple Venice biennales and at the Beijing International Art Biennale, the Shenzhen and Hong Kong Biennale, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and the Graham Foundation, to name just a few.

T+E+A+M will join the ranks of past Ragdale Ring designers SPORTS Collaborative, Bittertang, Design With Company, and Stephen Dietrich Lee. Last year’s iteration by SPORTS, entitled Rounds, won The Architect’s Newspaper’s 2016 Best of Design Award for Temporary Installation.

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SPORTS’s giant green ribbon lands in Chicago’s north suburbs

A glimpse of a bright green form caught my eye as I missed the driveway of the Ragdale Foundation estate north of Chicago. A red Ferrari was close behind my rental car, and I couldn’t slow down in time to make the turn. The 50-acre Ragdale estate is situated in the wooded Lake Forest community, home to some of Chicago’s wealthiest families. The green apparition I spotted was this year’s Ragdale Ring.

The Ragdale Ring is a temporary open-air theater designed each year by winners of the foundation’s Adrian Smith Prize. This year’s iteration, designed by Syracuse-based SPORTS, is entitled Rounds. Fittingly, the installation is an undulating arching ribbon creating a perfect 70-foot diameter circle in plan. Nestled in a clearing in the forested front of the estate, the piece ties into its surroundings with curving archways. The arches rise to different heights, forming varied elevated seating areas, passages to the center, and one large space designated for a stage. Each arch responds to different conditions around the site, such as the main house, the residency building, or an entry path. The mint green color is vibrant, yet complementary to its verdant surroundings.

Thanks to engineering assistance from Arup, the piece is constructed out of waffled framed plywood and stands with no visible support. Landscape architects Rosborough Partners prepared the site with subtle rises where the ribbon hits the ground—combined with a meticulous paint job, it is hard to understand exactly how the ring was built, even when standing close. The result is the appearance that the entire ring was brought as one piece, maybe dropped on the site by some playful aliens.

SPORTS is a design collaboration between architects Greg Corso and Molly Hunker, faculty members at the Syracuse School of Architecture. Corso, Hunker, and a small team lived at Ragdale for three weeks in order to construct Rounds. The Adrian Smith Prize provides a $15,000 production grant and Ragdale provides room and board for the entire team, who also takes part in communal dinners and has access to the property’s forest and prairies. 

The Ragdale property was originally the country home of Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. Shaw was also the designer of the original Ragdale Ring in 1912. That first open air theater was specifically designed for his playwright wife. This year’s ring is the fourth since Ragdale initiated a program to reimagine the original in 2013. Now an international competition, it calls for designs that “explore intersections of architecture, sculpture, landscape, design, public art, and performance disciplines.”

Ragdale is not normally open to the public. The property is kept private to provide space for its nearly 200 annual residents to work without interruption. Fortunately, the public can experience Rounds in person—tickets are available to the public for a small number of performances throughout the late summer. The next of these will be a jazz concert August 18. What better way to finish a picturesque drive through Chicago’s mansion-filled north suburbs, than with a jazz concert in an uncannily mint green theater?

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SPORTS announced as designers of the 2016 Ragdale Ring

SPORTS is a design collaboration between architects Greg Corso and Molly Hunker, both faculty at the Syracuse University School of Architecture. The Adrian Smith Prize is awarded each year to a young design firm to build the Ragdale Ring, and outdoor performance space for the 50-acre Ragdale campus north of Chicago. SPORTS will receive a $15,000 production grant and a ten person residency for up to three weeks, starting May 23. SPORTS’s design, entitled Rounds, was selected by a jury of architects and artists. Comprised of an undulating circular ribbon, Rounds will be the site of public performance and garden party on June 9th. The rises and runs of the ribbon will act as the seating, stages, entries, and a space for the Ragdale community to gather throughout the summer. The original Ragdale Ring was designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw in 1912 as an open air theater for his playwright wife. Since 2013 Ragdale has re-imagined the Ring through an annual international competition. Ragdale specifically looks for designs that “explore intersections of architecture, sculpture, landscape, design, public art, and performance disciplines.” “I am proud to support the Ragdale Ring competition which uniquely serves the field of architecture and dynamically engages the public. Rounds is an exceptional design solution and I look forward to its successful construction and use,” remarked prize sponsor and jury member, Adrian Smith in this year’s announcement. Ragdale offers upwards of 200 residencies and fellowships annually at their campus in Lake Forest, IL, just north of Chicago. At any given time 13 artist are in residency working uninterrupted for weeks at a time. While SPORTS is in residency they will take part in nightly family style dinners, and have full access to the campuses 50 acres of prairie.
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Enormous architecture-shaped pillows will fill a vacant field for Chicago’s third annual Ragdale Ring

A suburban field on Chicago's North Shore will host a fantastical summer pavilion fashioned after a toy box, with outsized pillows in the shape of architectural elements, according to designs selected as the winner of the third annual Ragdale Ring competition. Young Chicago designers Design With Company (Dw/Co) took their cues from the original Ragdale Ring garden theatre designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw in 1912. The Ragdale Foundation was founded in 1897 on the grounds of Arts and Crafts architect Shaw’s summer home in Lake Forest, Illinois, 30 miles north of Chicago. Architects Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer dubbed their contemporary interpretation of the outdoor theater Shaw Town. Dw/Co plucked architectural details from some of Shaw's early 20th century buildings in the Chicago area—such as the rooftops of Market Square in Lake Forest and the Quadrangle Club at the University of Chicago—and created “audience-friendly pillows” in their form, to be stored in a giant wooden toy box when not in use. “The moveable pillows sprinkled across the landscape are intended to be used by the audience in a multitude of ways from seating to play,” reads Ragdale's announcement. “Visitors are encouraged to rediscover Shaw’s buildings without even knowing it.” Last year's winner, New York–based Bittertang Farm, sculpted an earthen grotto from packs of hay. (See a gallery of photos from that installation here.) Like Bittertang's ring, Shaw Town is also made from biodegradable materials. Shaw Town, whose construction will be funded by a $15,000 production grant, debuts June 13 at 1230 North Green Bay Road, Lake Forest, Illinois. More information can be found on Ragdale's website, ragdale.org.
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Bittertang Farms sculpts hay into a North Shore theater for 102nd Ragdale Ring competition

Studio Gang’s treehouse revamp of Writers Theatre isn’t the only North Shore performance space to dance with organic forms. Designers Michael Loverich and Antonio Torres of The Bittertang Farm won $15,000 to install a temporary stage for performances in Lake Forest, where renderings show sculpted piles of hay and wavy architectural forms that “melt into the existing landscape.” Their design will be the 102nd iteration of the Ragdale Ring, a competition that invites architects, designers, and artists to cook up ideas for a temporary outdoor theater space on Chicago’s suburban North Shore. The nonprofit Ragdale Foundation has supported artist residencies and exhibitions since its founding in 1897 on the grounds of Arts and Crafts architect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s summer home in Lake Forest, Illinois, 30 miles north of Chicago (1230 N. Green Bay Road, Lake Forest, Illinois). “At Ragdale we are creating a new ground—one that brings together different architectural forms, including grottoes, gardens, mounds and hay piles to create a structure that can be performed ‘on’ as well as ‘under,’” said Loverich and Torres in a statement. Construction on the temporary structure will begin this month, with the public unveiling scheduled for June 14. The debut will be a benefit show featuring a “masked garden party” and performances by musicians and actors inside the Ring. “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 the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), juror, and a member of Ragdale’s board of directors. “And, when the season concludes, the Ring is ultimately biodegradable.” The design appears as a larger version of an installation the firm built on New York City's Governors Island in 2011.