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exhibit  :    CROSSING    THE    SKYLINE (saic)    

Type Exhibition   

Location School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL

Design Aneesha Dharwadker

Fabrication TJ Bayowa, Hannah Brostoff, Yong Yi Ye

Curator Joseph Altshuler

Collaborators University of Illinois Library, Education Justice Project,

Human Rights Defense Center  

Date November 2019-January 2020

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With each new national election cycle, criminal justice reform re-emerges as a prominent topic in public discourse. This project serves as a reminder that beyond policy, the architecture of the prison system needs to be rethought. Rehabilitation can occur more successfully if the everyday spaces of corrections are reshaped to be more humane and accessible.  


Crossing the Skyline establishes a blurred zone between the public and the imprisoned, where the primary activity is reading. While it is not intended to be a literal construction, it deploys architecture critically to generate new questions about the role, location, and physical form of prisons. Must incarceration always equal isolation? Can we provide other kinds spaces—especially hybrid or shared ones—that challenge ingrained instincts, fears, and stigmas about imprisonment? What positive effects can new, connective architectures have on a deeply fractured system? Finally, how can increased literacy assist in rehabilitation and reduce recidivism?

This exhibit models the Crossing the Skyline proposal at 1/2" = 1'. At this scale, an abstracted Harold Washington Library becomes a bookshelf for two types of texts:


The library within: books written by luminaries in prison


The library kept out: books banned from American prisons


Texts for the exhibit were generously loaned from the University of Illinois Library, the Education Justice Project, and the Human Rights Defense Center. Support for the exhibit was provided by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Illinois College of Fine and Applied Arts.


Download the exhibition pamphlet.


Photographs: Aneesha Dharwadker, Joseph Altshuler   

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Process and fabrication

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Chicago      design      office

Architecture for Social Progress.

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