2022 Presidential Award


Chicago, IL


Westside Health Authority



Landscape Architects

Lamar Johnson Collaborative

Project Details

PopCourts is a pop-up park in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s Westside. Imagined as a respite from the challenges brought on by the pandemic, PopCourts provides much-needed outdoor amenity space in the heart of Austin. Situated in the middle of the “Soul City Corridor” along Chicago Avenue and identified by the City’s Invest SouthWest initiative, PopCourts is part of a larger vision to bring development to Chicago’s under-invested, and primarily black and brown communities. The project is unique and innovative in the way it engages multiple stakeholders and mobilizes the community to design, fund and build a project in less than a year. Popcourts is the first of many investments along the corridor and marks a shift in the community. It will be a catalyst for investment in a critical corridor of a historically forgotten and disenfranchised community. The bold colors and design reflect the vibrancy of the community, and provide a culturally relevant backdrop for community events. POPCourts was designed to provide a stage for neighborhood gatherings, a mouthpiece for community artists, and a safe space for the local youth. The project includes three zones, familiarly known as “Courts,” each serving a variety of community functions. The programming is meant to be flexible and allow activities to “Pop” up and transform over time. Each Court was designed with unique characters and materials. The basketball court doubles as a community plaza. The gravel drive will host food trucks, farmer’s market and other seasonal vendors, and the shaded lawn functions as a food court with casual seating. The success of this project has not only sparked new development of vacant lots in the community but also became an inspiration for a city wide program called “POP” which will fund similar community plazas all across the city.

Project Team

Owner / Client: Westside Health Authority
Architect: Lamar Johnson Collaborative
Contractor: Butler Frelix Construction
Other: United Way of Metro Chicago, Chicago DPD, Austin Coming Together, All Reimaging Chicago, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, SSA 72

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