Community Engagement

The Historic Preservation program at SAIC uses Chicago as a laboratory, and nearly all department projects involve Chicago or Chicago-area buildings and sites, often resulting in community-based projects that connect and serve the public.

Photo of Big Daddy's Patio abandoned drive-up restaurant

Landmark Illinois Launches New Recent Past Survey Database

Nearly 15 years after first launching the Recent Past Survey of Suburban Cook County, Landmarks Illinois has released an updated and revamped online database that allows visitors to easily search for and learn about non-residential architectural resources built between 1935 and 1975 in dozens of Chicago suburban communities.

Learn More about Landmark Illinois

The Forum

The Forum served the Bronzeville community with a variety of functions focused on both the arts as well as other cultural and social institutions throughout its history. After standing vacant for almost four decades, the building was purchased with the goal of restoration.  

Learn more about The Forum

Roger Brown Study Collection: Window Conditions Assessment and Recommendations

A Building Diagnostics class from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s M.S. Historic Preservation Program was tasked in Fall 2010 with documenting conditions and proposing recommendations for the restoration of the facility’s exterior windows. 

Learn more about the Roger Brown building assessment

Walt Disney Birthplace Exterior Paint and Finish Analysis

The students extracted samples from three exterior sides of the house while carefully documenting the location of the removed paint. Students then performed a microscopic analysis of the layers of paint from the exterior trim, bargeboard, and clapboard siding.

Learn more about the analysis of Disney's birthplace

Frances Willard House Paint Analysis

The objective of the project was to determine the historic paint colors and wallpapers of the extant first floor of the office, hall, parlor, and dining Room on the Frances Willard House in Evanston, Illinois, and to select paint colors and coatings for future restoration purposes that are appropriate to the period of significance - 1890.

Learn more about the Frances Willard House analysis

workers-cottages tour

The Chicago Workers Initiative

The Chicago Workers Cottage Initiative celebrates this housing style, seeking to preserve the unique features of these houses, protect them from demolition, and continue their use and reuse for the next century. There are currently as many as 60,000 workers cottages in Chicago. Most were built during Chicago's dramatic expansion of population and area from the 1880s to 1910s. These modest houses were built for working class families and represent the origins of the "American Dream" of homeownership and the investment and pride of Chicago's new immigrants. In many of Chicago's neighborhoods undergoing redevelopment, these homes are increasingly targeted for demolition. Preserving workers cottages will retain the continuity of neighborhood history, scale, and character as well as stabilize affordable housing where housing costs are increasing.

Learn more about the Chicago Workers Initiative