Back Alley Jazz

LocationSouth ShoreBuilt2021ClientHyde Park Jazz Festival

“We were able to bring so many people together for a joyous occasion to hear incredible music across the South Shore neighborhood.”

- Olivia Junell, Hyde Park Jazz Festival and Back Alley Jazz Project Manager


In 2021, we were commissioned by the Hyde Park Cultural Center to design and build temporary structures for Back Alley Jazz, an event that consists of pop-up concerts throughout the South Shore neighborhood.


  • Create wayfinding structures for the people attending Back Alley Jazz
  • Highlight the history of the event and the artists performing
  • Honor the land that once belonged to Algonquian peoples (South Shore)
  • Easy to install and disassemble


During our research we learned about Back Alley Jazz, a one-day event that was inspired by the original jazz alley jams that took place in various locations on the South Side of Chicago in the 1960s and 70s. We came across various historical photographs about these alley jams and displayed them on the totem poles. We also learned about South Shore, and how it once belonged to the Algonquian peoples, a Native American group composed of many tribes that shared cultural similarities and dialects of the Algonquin language.





  • Created four totem poles at four different performance locations
  • Installed 15 signs on each pole that contained historical photos, background of the event, map of performances, lineup of artists, and a land acknowledgment.
  • Created an online directory of resources and important links for the event.

In partnership with