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Lake Forest, IL
Competition: 2022 Ragdale Ring
For the 10th anniversary of the Ragdale Ring Competition, this proposal wants to celebrate and echo the original outdoor theater designed by Architect Howard Van Doren Shaw in 1921. In accordance with the 2022 competition theme ‘Roots’, the scheme draws inspiration from both the original Ragdale Ring and its precedent: the outdoor theater at Villa Gori in Sienna. Besides its associations with the history of Ragdale, the project also pursues ties with the context of Lake Forest.
Even though Illinois is dubbed as the Prairie State, it has lost millions of untouched acres to productive farmland. In an attempt to bring awareness to this phenomena and crawl under the skin of the site’s context, the proposal brings the prairie to Ragdale. Native grasses and wildflowers are dispersed throughout the project and augment the outdoor theater’s relationship to nature. Visitors aren’t only surrounded by native vegetation, they are fully immersed in it. Twenty mobile garden carts provide seating and contain tall grass samples. While half of them are dedicated to embrace the seating area or to be arranged in rows next to the stage, the other half offers seating in the ‘green’. The seating carts accommodate one to two people in different combinations and are able to be illuminated at dusk. With their translucent corrugated cladding, they act as industrial containers during the day and fire flies in the prairie at night.