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KLEO Plaza

Chicago, IL, United States

The Washington Park Arts District project is one piece in a greater comprehensive strategy for reinvigorating the Washington Park community on Chicago’s South Side. The inspiration for this design emerged from KLEO’s mission. K.L.E.O. is an acronym for Keep Loving Each Other, but most importantly the KLEO organization is continuing the legacy of Kleo Y. Barrett, who was a victim of a domestic violence incident that took her life. Her name and legacy will continue to inspire the project and encourage families affected by domestic violence.

This neighborhood is undergoing significant positive change given that it is the gateway to the shore of Lake Michigan, the University of Chicago campus, as well as the future Barack Obama Presidential Center. KLEO and JGMA used the opportunity to meet with a lot of the artists in the community to understand what living means to them.

The Washington Park Arts District project is an extension of the work of the KLEO Life Center. Intentionally, the Master Plan design and the existing buildings are meant to have a conversation with one another. One of them is the KLEO Art Residences, on the southwest corner of Garfield Avenue and Michigan Avenue. This connection provides the opportunity to rethink the experience within this neighborhood as it translates to the building of the KLEO Life Center. The colorful graffiti wall found at the entrance of the center has become an icon for this neighborhood, shining bright as a sign of protection, joy and hope. We wanted to celebrate the wonderful work and positive impact that this organization is having in this community, so we are using color as a way to express joy.

Extracting hues from the existing graffiti wall and the KLEO Art Residences, the color pattern extends toward the streets sharing the message of “Keep loving each other.” As the message crosses E Garfield Blvd, the pattern extends east to connect to Life Center Church and the Green Line Arts Center, and north to connect to the XS Tennis & Education Foundation­ — important institutions in the neighborhood.

The Washington Park Arts District Master Plan wants to celebrate the community by giving the place an image that represents joy and that connects people through positive programming.


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