To help engage students and help generate interest in architecture in younger audiences, the Chicago Architecture Foundation has teamed up with a group of artists to produce a graphic novel that explores the past, present, and even the future of Chicago architecture. Dubbed No Small Plans, the colorful 144-page graphic novel looks to the 1909 Burnham Plan of Chicago and the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s own Wacker’s Manual of the Plan of Chicago textbook for inspiration.
The novel is broken up into three sections where it follows the adventures of children from the past, the current year, and a couple hundred years in the future. Beyond architecture, the novel seeks to explore complex cultural changes over the decades. For instance, in the chapter that focuses on Chicago in 1928, three children from different neighborhoods defy social norms to meet and explore the downtown area. The chapter that focuses on 2017 highlights changing neighborhood demographics and displacement in neighborhoods like Logan Square and Pilsen.
According to the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the graphic novel will be produced for children in grades 6-10 and the group hopes to give away 5,000 copies this year. Artists working on the project include Gabrielle Lyon, Devin Mawdsley, Kayce Bayer, Chris Lin and Deon Reed.
Because the project is being crowdfunded through Kickstarter, the Chicago Architecture Foundation has to hit their funding goal before the deadline to get access to donations. However, the group has already raised $9,300 and has another 30 days to raise the remaining $10,700.