Chicago Transit Authority Seeks Artists for Public Art Commission

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Contracted Services; Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Chicago Transit Authority Seeks Artists for Public Art Commission




The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) invite professional artists and artist teams with a demonstrated history of completing complex, permanent, outdoor public art projects to submit their qualifications for a $750,000 public art commission for the new CTA State and Lake Station to be built on the Loop elevated tracks at the intersection of State and Lake Streets in downtown Chicago. Construction is scheduled to begin in Summer 2023.


The City is building a completely new State/Lake Station for the CTA to provide a fully accessible facility that services five train lines. The new State/Lake CTA station will replace the more than 100-year-old existing structure with a modern, fully accessible rail hub with wider platforms and a host of customer amenities built to 21st Century design standards. It includes wide balconies open to the public, facing north and south, creating scenic overlooks of State Street.

The current State/Lake station was built in 1895, as part of the original Loop elevated, and in 2019 was the second-busiest station on the Loop ‘L’, with more than 3.7 million annual entries. The station serves five of the CTA’s eight rail lines. The new design features a blend of old and new, retaining original design elements such as salvaged posts and railings that frame the vending and Customer Assistance kiosks.

The station’s design and construction process are being led by CDOT on behalf of the CTA. The station design, by TranSystems / Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), features platforms that are double the current width, to better accommodate customers. It also includes a full-coverage, glass canopy  to protect customers from rain and snow, as well as a walkway connecting the inner and outer platforms.

The project will add elevators — there are currently none — to make the station fully accessible. The new station will also improve connectivity between the elevated lines of the downtown Loop and the underground Red Line on State Street.

This public art opportunity is for a suite of objects to be located at specified sites on the passenger platforms and crossover.

Successful public art proposals will approach the artwork’s setting with a bold and creative vision that is sensitive to its context which includes the new station architecture, the vistas up and down State Street and, importantly, the people on the platform and their relationship to the artwork in a space which many will be using daily. Designs will be informed by a robust community engagement process that interacts with project area neighborhood residents, interested members of the public from across the city, and commuters who will use the facility. Designs should include elements of an appropriate size, scale and orientation to engage viewing from multiple potential vantage points. The artwork must be engineered to withstand the demands of its environment and require minimal to no annual maintenance.

Acceptable media for the artwork are stainless steel, galvanized steel, bronze, laminated art glass panels, ceramic or other durable materials pending review and approval. Artworks must be fabricated and finished to allow routine power washing and withstand damage from general public interaction.


Following the RFQ application deadline, DCASE will convene an advisory panel of community representatives, arts professionals, and relevant agencies staff to review the applications. The committee will select 3-4 finalists, who will be commissioned to develop public art proposals. Finalists will present their design proposals to the selection panel and a final artist or artist team will be selected.


Finalists will be paid a $2,500 honorarium to develop proposals.


This opportunity is open nationally to all professional artists and artist teams.


Applicants will be shortlisted based on a competitive review of the following:

·         Artistic excellence: demonstrated skill and quality craftsmanship in examples of past work; examples provided should be relevant to how the artist will approach this public art opportunity

·         Creative process: examples of past work should illustrate how artist has used community engagement in their design process; examples provided should be relevant to how the artist will approach this public art opportunity

·         Ability: demonstrated experience in public art project management and executing large scale outdoor artwork, coordinating engineering and fabricating teams, delivering contractual milestones and managing large budgets in a timely fashion

·         Meaningful relationship of the creative and conceptual aspects of their artistic process with the purpose of the CTA State and Lake Station Public Art project as expressed in the Letter of Interest (LOI).


Application is available via CaFÉ. Deadline for submissions is 3/5/23, 11:59pm, CST.


Contact: Nathan Mason, Curator of Collections and Public Art


Each artist or artist team must submit an entirely digital application.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Applications should include:

a)       Six (6) to ten (10) total images of past large-scale public art and infrastructure projects by the artist or the artist team’s lead artist(s).

b)      Optional: One (1) video, edited to no more than two (2) minutes in length, may also be submitted but is not required.

c)       Annotated Image List: An annotated image list that includes the title, media, year completed, dimensions, location, project budget, timeline, and client or commissioning entity for each corresponding image.

i.            The annotated image list may include thumbnails of submitted images but does not replace the need to upload individual image files in fulfillment of a) above.

ii.            Image annotations may include very brief descriptions of how the image illustrates one or more of the selection criteria

iii.            If a video is submitted, please include two to three (2-3) sentences to describe its context.

d)      A one (1) page Letter of Interest (LOI) stating why the State/Lake Station opportunity is meaningful and appropriate for the applicant’s work, as well as potential approach to this project.

e)      If applying as an artist team, a list of key team members and their roles/affiliations in one PDF.

f)        A two (2) page resume or curriculum vitae (CV).

i.            If applying as an artist team, provide a resume or CV for each team member combined in one PDF.

g)       Three professional references
Open to artists nationally.

For the full RFQ, click here.