Center of the World, Chicago
MARSHALL BROWN, urban designer and architect, has constructed three scenarios — one political, one economic, one cultural — for the future of the Chicago Circle. The heart of legendary architect Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago was the Civic Center, located on the city’s cardinal axis, Congress Parkway. Burnham’s Civic Center was never built. Instead of his monument to democracy, we have the Circle Interchange – third worst traffic interchange in America, responsible for the loss of 25 million driving hours per year. Brown’ show at Western Exhibitions, his first at the gallery, Center of the World, Chicago will feature models, photomontage, and a trio of original videograms that project histories of Chicago’s future as the center of the world. The show opens on FRIDAY, JUNE 7 with a public reception from 5 to 8pm and will run through July 20. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11am to 6pm and by appointment.
Everything built, was once a dream… Chicago has a hole in its heart.
Selected passages from each scenario:
“…By moving its capital to the center of the country, the U.S. reclaimed its position at the center of a world without borders. This mashup culture gave Chicago its new nickname, “Worldtown” – a new capitol designed not as a monument to America’s past, but as a laboratory for inventing its future.
…People worked more days for longer hours because of their personal investment. But work also became less laborious and more of a social activity. Most businesses, in order to maintain their flexibility and responsiveness, stayed fairly small. The Central Business District of Chicago became a vibrant center of 24/7 social development and cultural production. The CSSE somehow returned Chicago to the radical definition of what a city should be – a collective space of contestation, negotiation, and ultimately mutual benefit.
…The architect Daniel Burnham’s dream of the White City was rebuilt on the foundations of Ms. Winfrey’s stewardship. After Her hostile takeover of Google in 2025, the OM library over the Circle Interchange became the undisputed center of global knowledge and communication. The archive and its sister institutions renewed Chicago as a center of enlightenment on the level of Vatican City or Mecca. And thus The Oprah ascended from Icon to Guru to Prophet, by building a Radiant City of benevolence, beauty, wealth and power.”
Marshall Brown has been working on several projects in Chicago, including the Navy Pier redevelopment and a master plan for the neighborhood of Washington Park. In 2003 he founded the Yards Development Workshop, a studio that set out to hi-jack Frank Gehry’s Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. MARSHALL BROWN PROJECTS is a versatile urban design and architecture studio based in Chicago. He constructs visions for large-scale urban environments and solutions for the creative integration of architecture, infrastructure, and landscape.
He also recently founded the urbanism, art and culture think tank NEW PROJECTS in collaboration with curator Stephanie Smith. Brown is on the editorial board of the Journal of Architectural Education and has lectured at the Chicago Humanities Festival, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, University of Michigan, Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, the Graham Foundation, and the Arts Club of Chicago. His work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit; Soapbox Gallery in Brooklyn; and at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in North Carolina. His projects and essays have appeared in several books and journals, including Art Papers, The Believer, Architectural Record, The Architect’s Newspaper, and The New York Daily News.