Introductory text to the exhibition Between Exits 0 and 1 written by Janet Abrams
Chicago Institute for Architecture and Urbanism Director (1991–1992)
These postcards represent snapshots from a studio project conducted at UIC last spring, led by Robert Somol and Doug Garofalo, to which one of the participants drew my attention soon after I had taken up my appointment this September. It seemed fortuitously related to the starting point of my proposed CIAU research program: namely, the influence of World’s Fairs on urban design in the industrial era, and the question of their continuing relevance as we approach the twenty-first century, already habituated to global travel and communications.
Usually, a school project has a fixed lifespan: a conceit conjured up by design tutors becomes a tenacious reality for the course of the semester, but as soon as the final jury is past, it dissolves once again into fiction, the fruits of hard thinking and drafting relegated to the confines of the portfolio. Often it is only after such projects are “ended” that one can see where the ideas were leading, and what ought to be the next stage of development. All too rarely does the opportunity arise to follow on from these.
At the CIAU’s invitation, the Somol/Garofalo studio reconvened at the Charnley House to review The Polar City and to take a second look at its successes and shortcomings. Two Brains for Breakfast meetings later, an exhibition of selected projects was in preparation; two weeks after that, and largely thanks to the efforts of Maurice Blanks (who had been a student in the UIC studio) it was mounted to coincide with the CIAU’s late-October  colloquium on Chicago’s World’s Fairs, actual and hypothetical, of 1893 and 1992.
The colloquium and the exhibition have both provoked new avenues for exploration. The images on these cards are fragments of designs which themselves are as yet only provisional statements, frames from a journey only just begun.