CTA looks to commission 6 pieces of public art for stations as part of RPM Project

The Red Line's Argyle station is currently under construction. Photo: John Greenfield
The Red Line's Argyle station is currently under construction. Photo: John Greenfield

The CTA has announced plans to add to its growing public art collection with six works scheduled for installation as part of the reconstruction of the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations. On Wednesday, February 23, the CTA issued a Request for Proposals calling for artists who will work with local communities and the CTA committee to create art that draws inspiration from its environment and hopefully improves riders’ experience.

One artist or artist team will be selected to create a piece of public art for each of these six locations chosen by the CTA.

  • The Lawrence main stationhouse, 1120 W. Lawrence
  • Argyle main stationhouse, 1118 W. Argyle
  • Berwyn main stationhouse, 1119 W. Berwyn
  • Bryn Mawr main stationhouse, 1116 W. Bryn Mawr
  • Bryn Mawr Hollywood entrance, 1119 W. Hollywood
  • Lawrence to Bryn Mawr viaduct walls

Artists from all backgrounds are encouraged to submit applications with pictures of previous work, documentation of awards and recognition, and a written statement by April 1. A CTA review committee will select six finalists between August and September of 2022. Before the chosen artists have proposed their designs, the CTA will host community meetings for each location receiving public art. These meetings will allow local residents and business owners to meet with the artists and provide input on the design. All six public artworks are scheduled for completion alongside the new Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations, before the end of 2024.

Rendering of the new Bryn Mawr station.
Rendering of the new Bryn Mawr station.

“Public art plays an important role CTA by providing a more pleasant experience for our customers and the communities in which we serve,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. in a statement. “We are looking forward to hiring artists who will collaborate with local residents and enhance the new, beautiful and fully accessible stations we are building.”

The budget for each of the six new public art installations will be negotiated with the selected artist but is set between $100,000 and $200,000. About 15-20 percent of the project budget will be paid to the artist, and the rest will cover the cost of design, materials, fabrication, insurance, and the delivery of the artwork.

Theaster Gates' DJ booth at the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line station. Photo: CTA
Theaster Gates’ DJ booth at the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line station. Photo: CTA

The CTA has shown a growing interest in public art, and the number of permanent installations has almost doubled in the past ten years to include over 70 pieces. Previous calls for artists by the CTA have received hundreds of applications and resulted in partnerships with internationally-known artists. For example, Theaster Gates, created the visual piece “america, america” and “An Extended Song of Our People” (AESOP), a performance space and radio station for the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line station as part of renovations to the station in 2019.

The CTA’s most recent public art installations were unveiled in 2021 at the Western and Addison stations on the Blue Line’s O’Hare branch. The Western station received “Remnants | Restos” a series of local architecture-inspired functional art pieces that double as public seating, created by husband-and-wife team Edra Soto and Dan Sullivan (longtime friends of Streetsblog Chicago co-editor John Greenfield.) At the Addison station, the piece “Constant Flow into multitudes of specific Form” by Italian Artist Francesco Simeti replaced the station’s clear windowpanes with colorful glass pieces depicting indigenous wildlife and locally inspired architectural forms. These installations were created alongside improvements made to the stations under the Your New Blue project.    

A view of "Constant Flow into multitudes of specific Form" by Francesco Simeti. Photo: CTA
A view of “Constant Flow into multitudes of specific Form” by Francesco Simeti. Photo: CTA

The CTA continues its trend of including public art installations in station renovation projects with its recent announcement to commission six public artworks as part of the massive Red and Purple Modernization project. RPM will be completed in phases but will eventually reconstruct the Red and Purple lines’ century-old tracks as well as other infrastructure, from the Belmont station all the way north to the end of the Purple Line at Linden. Construction for Phase one of the RPM started in 2019 and is expected to increase the corridor’s capacity by 15 percent. Phase one’s expected cost is over $2.1 billion, including the purchase of 32 new rail cars. Funding for the project is provided by The Federal Transit Administration, a federal grant from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and the city of Chicago.

Map of the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project
Map of the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project

Phase one of RPM includes the Red-Purple Bypass, aka the Belmont Flyover, completed at the end of 2021, and the ongoing Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization project. Construction of the flyover allows the northbound Brown Line to pass up and over the Red and Purple Line tracks via an elevated track instead of intersecting with them at the Clark Street junction. The new elevated track eliminates delays previously caused by the northbound Brown Line crossing paths with the Red and Purple Lines, allowing the CTA to run more trains.

In May 2021, the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr Red Line stations were closed to start LBMM construction. These four stations are currently being rebuilt and modernized with wider platforms, better lighting, and modern amenities. The stations are also becoming ADA accessible with the addition of elevators and escalators. Temporary stations have opened at Argyle and Bryn Mawr.

The LBMM also includes the reconstruction of more than a mile of track and support structures adjacent to the new stations. The project is expected to be completed before the end of 2024, when the new stations at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr will reopen with their six newly installed public artworks.

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