Professional Practice

Design Competition, The Ragdale Ring Project, Lake Forest, Illinois

Date: 1/29/2013 - 2/28/2013

Type: Call for Submissions

Location(s): US


The Ragdale Ring Project
Ragdale, the nationally acclaimed artist residency program in Lake Forest, Illinois, invites emerging architects, landscape architects, and designers to apply for the opportunity to design, build, and exhibit a full-scale Ragdale Ring, a temporary structure intended to house summer performance/events (examples: experimental music, spoken word poetry and contemporary dance) and their audiences. Ragdale welcomes proposals for full-scale projects and installations that explore contemporary, fanciful and functional interpretations of the original Ragdale Ring, designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw in 1912 as an outdoor garden theatre for plays written by his wife, Frances Shaw.

We are seeking inventive, site responsive, large scale submissions that explore intersections of architecture, landscape, sculpture, public art, and performance disciplines. A jury of architects, artists, and arts administrators will select a single project to realize at full scale on Ragdale’s grounds. The recipient will receive a $10,000 production grant to fund the project as well as an outdoor studio, room and board for the design/installation team in May, 2013. The project must be completed by June 1.

Project Guidelines
Applicants are encouraged to visit Ragdale prior to submitting their application. The identified site is a gently sloping lawn area of approximately 80’ x 80’ located immediately behind the 1897 Arts and Crafts Ragdale House bordered by a garden, woods, and 50 acres of native prairie. Photos of the site along with the Ragdale campus are available at

The installation is subject to approval by Ragdale staff and must meet safety requirements to be able to withstand the effects of weather and public use. Proposals are open to any interpretation of the original Ragdale Ring, but should adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. The structure (in its entirety or parts) should accommodate sheltered, cabana-style seating for a minimum of 50 people, room for an additional 150 temporary seats (such as our guest's lawn chairs), as well as an event space for up to 350 guests.
  2. A light rain/sun shelter within a stage-like area should be incorporated into the design to protect performers, participants, and other users of the space.
  3. The proposal should address plans for the reuse, recycling, and dispersal of all material used in the project.
  4. A preliminary budget should be included that identifies expenses related to the $10,000 production grant. If the budget exceeds this grant, the proposal should include potential additional funding sources and in-kind donations.
  5. Renderings and sketches should be included as part of the proposal.
  6. Present evidence of your team's qualifications in sufficient detail to demonstrate your capacity to complete the project as you have described it.

Application Instructions
Applicants should submit project proposals through the ArtsApp online portal, no later than 11:59 pm on Thursday, February 28, 2013. Proposal review and notification will take place by March 12.

A completed application consists of:

Proposal – A written explanation of up to 1000 words that clearly describes the project and its relationship to the historic Ring and its anticipated use.

Resume/CV – A current resume/CV should include information about your education, work and teaching experience, exhibition history (if applicable), awards, grants, residencies and other relevant information, including links to websites, blogs, etc. 3)

Work Samples – A selection of ten digital images that show plans, renderings, drawings, and any previous work that shows related ideas and concepts. Each file submitted should have a title, date and brief description of work. ArtsApp accepts documents (pdf., .doc), images (.jpg, .JPEG, .png, .gif, .tiff), audio (mp3), and video (.flv, .m4v,.mp4, .avi, .asf).


  • February 28, deadline for submissions
  • March 1-11, jury process
  • March 12, notification to winning team
  • Mid-March/April, off-site production
  • May, installation / residency June 1
  • Ragdale Ring, complete June for Spring Gala.

Application Checklist:

_____ Project Proposal and Statement

_____ Resume / CV

 _____ $40 application fee

_____ Work samples (10 digital files maximum) The maximum number of files submitted in a complete application is 12.

Award and Residency
One project will be chosen. The recipient will receive a $10,000 production grant towards realizing the proposed project. The recipient will also receive an 18-30 day residency that includes room and board, and a studio for the design/installation team of six-to-eight people during the month of May 2013. The project must be completed by June 1 as it will be used for a spring gala event on June 8.

Architects, aldnscape architects, and related designers are invited to apply. Applicants do not need to be registered. Architects, landscape architects, and designers outside of the Chicago area are eligible to apply, but additional funds for transportation will not be available. Production grant funds may be used for transportation as long as overall quality of the project is not sacrificed.

Applicants may email questions to

About Ragdale
Ragdale is a non-profit artist residency program located on Arts and Crafts, architect Howard Van Doren Shaw’s country estate in Lake Forest, 30 miles north of Chicago. In 1976, Shaw’s granddaughter Alice Judson Hayes transformed her family’s summer home into an artist’s retreat to provide time and space for artists to create important new work. Today Ragdale hosts up to 200 artists, writers, and composers at all stages of their career for two-to-six week residencies each year, making it the one of the largest interdisciplinary artist communities in the country. Ragdale offers a retreat setting where at any given time, a dozen creative individuals experience uninterrupted time for dedicated work, a supportive environment, dynamic artist exchanges, 50 acres of idyllic prairie, and a family-style dinner each evening.

Howard Van Doren Shaw designed the original Ragdale Ring in 1912 as an outdoor theatre to accommodate the plays of his wife, Frances Shaw, which were typically performed by friends and children. Audiences of moe than 200 sat on benches designed by Shaw. Shaw’s design was a copy of an outdoor garden theatre he had seen at the Villa Gori, outside of Siena, Italy. The audience sat in a circular orchestra paved with grass and surrounded by a low limestone wall. The stage was at the level of the top of the wall, with evergreens forming wings for entrances and exits. On both sides of the stage stood columns topped with baskets of stone fruit. During a performance, banners or Japanese lanterns were hung around the theatre. During intermissions, the audience strolled along the terrace and looked at the view. Shaw also installed a sophisticated lighting system with three tiers of floodlights and two spotlights.

1260 N. Green Bay Road
Lake Forest, IL 60045


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