Architecture &
Design Research


Chicago, IL
Client: Self-initiated research

Upstream from Chicago’s known issue of vacant lots is the opaque purgatory of "demo court," currently comprising a backlog of 1700+ buildings slated for demolition. These properties have reached a legal point-of-no-return: violations piled up, fees levied, owners and lenders pursued, and the complex absolution of building permits left unissued. However, with city-ordained demolitions at a yearly cost of $35 million, Permissions/Forgiveness asks: How can we reframe the buildings of “demo court” as public assets? This project investigates demo court through mapping, cataloging, and construction. Using open-source and interview data, this research documents the City’s shadow ecology of condemned buildings, economies and stakeholders. With a close analysis of building materials, this research investigates alternative procurement processes, including the details, quantities, and distributed locations of commonly demolished components. De-construction mock-ups at 1:1 scale suggest the means and methods to untap the possibilities of Chicago's most precarious building stock.