Constructing spaces that foster community growth and connection is crucial to creating a sense of belonging that leads to stronger, more resilient communities. Clayco’s partner company, Lamar Johnson Collaborative, has done an excellent job building beyond these walls into the neighborhoods where we operate to deliver PopCourts! – a “small plaza that turned into a movement” – which won an Honor Award in Urban Design from the 2023 ASLA Professional Awards.

This is a great honor and an important recognition, demonstrating the innovation that can be sparked when people pour their passions into projects. The 7,000-square-foot development on Chicago’s West Side is a basketball court and an outdoor community plaza. The space hosts food trucks, farmers’ markets, and seasonal vendors. It is also decorated with colorful murals by local artists that feature influential leaders like Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, and Maya Angelou. 

PopCourts! is the perfect example of how public spaces can revitalize communities. This project has become a case study and source of inspiration for the “Public Outdoor Plaza” program (“POP”), which has committed to financing ten additional community plazas in historically underserved neighborhoods. 

By relentlessly pursuing innovative ideas, LJC brings fresh perspectives and captivating concepts to various developments and communities. I look forward to seeing how the team continues to strive to enhance the lives of residents and their accessibility to arts, culture, and nature. 

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