From the curators: Architectural fragments are part of a material history that speaks to past building practices, changing neighborhoods, and evolving ways of life. Recuperated from demolished or renovated buildings, these pieces of facades or interiors help preserve the memory of architecturally or culturally significant structures long after their physical presence has been erased.


Since its founding in 1837, Chicago's urban landscape has been marked by continuous change. As the fragments on view illustrate, the drivers of these transformations vary. They range from the economic to financial pressures of the Great Depression, for example, motivated many demolitions-to the political, including inequitable practices of redlining and "urban renewal" that have led to a disproportionate number of teardowns in Black and brown neighborhoods.


While this installation represents many works by Chicago's celebrated modern architects, other fragments come from buildings by lesser-known designers who were equally important in shaping spaces of activism, community, creativity, and labor in our dynamic metropolis. 



Art Institute of Chicago, Architecture and Design Department 


111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois, USA 




2,000 ft² / 186 m²

Project Team

Thomas Kelley, Spencer McNeil, Andrew Hunt

Consultant Team

Curation: Alison Fisher, Irene Sunwoo; Exhibition: Elizabeth Mescher, Thomas Huston; Conservation: Rachel Sabino, Kristen Gillette

Construction Team

Ravenswood, Andrew Talley


Nathan Keay