Ragdale Ring 2017

The Adrian Smith Prize for the 2017 Ragdale Ring goes to “LIVING PICTURE” by T+E+A+M

“We are thrilled to receive the Adrian Smith Prize for the 2017 Ragdale Ring. In its short history, this competition has produced an exciting series of experimental projects, and we’re honored to join the ranks of past winners. We look forward to our residency, meeting the other fellows, and watching our project come to life through public programming.” – T+E+A+M

LIVING PICTURE makes a scene. 

Historical elements from the original Ragdale Ring appear on lightweight objects stacked and spread throughout the grounds. Blending a historic scene with its contemporary counterpart, Living Picture recreates Howard Van Doren Shaw’s 1912 garden stage design—the low limestone wall, columns topped with fruit baskets, and the lush landscape of trees and hedges that formed the stage’s proscenium, wings, and backdrop—as digital imagery nestled among the trees and buildings of the Ragdale estate. The effect is a vivid visual space where images and objects overlap, align, and misregister. Members of the audience become performers as they weave between the scenic objects and sit on platforms at their base. A taller grouping of objects draws attention toward the stage where the historic imagery merges with the natural surrounds, placing the performer in a state of theatrical suspension—between past and present, between reality and artifice.

LIVING PICTURE is designed for the convergence of three key approaches—from the Ragdale House, from the parking lot, and from the Barnhouse. Visitors traveling along each path encounter a view of the historic Ragdale Ring, reconstructed as digital imagery overlaid onto large stacked objects. The clearest image of the original Ring appears when one approaches from the House, creating a connection between Ragdale’s past and its current visitors. This unified picture breaks down as one enters the seating area and perceives the images spread across multiple objects. This layered imagery expands the boundary of the proscenium, drawing audience members into the space of performance.

The overall arrangement of objects creates an open space for audience members to gather. Seven clusters along the edge of the clearing provide shaded seating areas with cushioned platforms. Two platforms are placed inside the clearing to provide additional seating while still leaving ample room for blankets and chairs. The largest cluster of objects creates a stage with a low central platform, and taller elements forming a backdrop and shallow overhang. Cones and cylinders to the sides form wings where performers can enter from offstage. All the objects except the platforms are hollow, allowing for storage of blankets and equipment that can be accessed from behind the stage.

“T+E+A+M’s proposal stood out because it honors the legacy of the original Ragdale Ring by integrating it directly into a cotemporary exploration of image, space, and performance.   It is great how both visitors and residents will be immersed in the history of the site and the continuing narrative of the project all summer.  We are excited for T+E+A+M to realize their proposal and expect their experience will be as rewarding and productive as ours was last year.” – Molly Hunker and Greg Corso, SPORTS

“The scaleability and flexibility of the solution is a wonderful fit for the dynamic character of Ragdale’s population. The absence of formal audience/performer hierarchical space and the compelling layering of historic site context and contemporary abstract imagining leaves an incredibly generous and rich space for creating and experiencing new work. The solution expresses an inherently collaborative spirit that recalls the unifying and celebratory intentions of the original Ring.”
– Anna Arellanes Wirth, von Weise Associates

“Living Picture is visually engaging, drawing references from nature and from postmodern architecture, and extremely flexible.  It will provide infinite staging possibilities that will certainly create moments of magic for Ragdale’s outdoor setting.”
– Zurich Esposito, AIA Chicago

T+E+A+M is a collaboration between Thom Moran, Ellie Abrons, Adam Fure, and 
Meredith Miller. They are a collective of four young, internationally-recognized designers with extensive experience in practice and teaching. They have been invited to exhibit work at the 2012 and 2016 Venice Biennales, Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Boston Society of Architects, Van Alen Institute, Center for Architecture, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, SCI-Arc, the Architectural Association, the A+D Gallery, the Beijing Biennale, the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Biennale, and ArtPrize Grand Rapids. They hold professional licensure and have completed numerous residential and hospitality interiors in New York, Virginia, and Michigan as well as full-scale installations in Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Venice. Their work has been published in Log, Avery Review, The Journal of Architectural Education, MONU, Triple Canopy, Project Journal, Thresholds, Scapegoat: Architecture, Pidgin, Landscape, Political Economy, and ARPA Journal. 

Notable awards and recognition among the members includes: 

  • Architectural League Prize (Two winners) 
  • Graham Foundation Grant for Exhibitions (with Possible Mediums) 
  • Graham Foundation Grant for Research 
  • Muschenheim Fellowship 
  • A. Alfred Taubman Fellowships in Architecture (Two winners) 
  • Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellowships (Two winners) 
  • ACSA Creative Achievement Award (with Possible Mediums) 
  • Mobile Homestead Artists in Residency, MOCAD (with Thing Thing) 
  • American Institute of Architects Upjohn Research Initiative grant


May 22 to June 9:  Design-Build residency
June 4:  Architects’ Open Studio
June 15:  Ragdale Ring opening performance – Visual Scores/Sonic Landscapes
July 13:  Ring Performance 2 – A Middle Eastern Evening of Music and Musings
August 10:  Ring Performance 3 – Composing the Moment: Danced Improvisation
September 16:  Ring Performance 4 – A Persephone Pageant

Production grant and residency: T+E+A+M will receive a $15,000 production grant to fund the project as well as studio space, room, and board for up to 10 individuals for 18 days.

2017 JURY
Greg Corso, SPORTS
Zurich Esposito, AIA Chicago
Molly Hunker, SPORTS
Regin Igloria, Ragdale Foundation
Jeffrey Meeuwsen, Ragdale Foundation
Phillip Rosborough, Rosborough Partners, Inc.
Adrian Smith, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Anna Arellanes Wirth, von Weise Associates

The Adrian Smith Prize for the 2017 Ragdale Ring is sponsored by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, a world-renowned firm headquartered in Chicago which is dedicated to the design of high-performance, energy-efficient and sustainable architecture on an international scale. Architect Adrian Smith, is known for many landmark buildings, including the two world’s tallest structures – Burj Khalifa in Dubai and Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  In addition to supporting the prize, Smith is lending his expertise to the Ragdale Ring design review and selection process.


In 2013 Ragdale launched an international competition to reinterpret Shaw’s Ring as a temporary, experimental environment. This annual competition provides artists, architects, and designers with the unique opportunity to devise and construct a performance venue and gathering place on the historic Ragdale campus. Each year we seek inventive, large-scale submissions that explore intersections of architecture, sculpture, landscape, design, public art, and performance disciplines. Howard Van Doren Shaw designed the original Ragdale Ring in 1912 as an open-air theatre for the work of his playwright wife, Frances Shaw.



Architect Howard Van Doren Shaw designed the original Ragdale Ring as an outdoor theatre to accommodate the plays of his wife, Frances. Audiences of over 200 to 300 guests sat on Shaw-designed benches in a circular orchestra paved with grass and surrounded by a low limestone wall. The raised stage featured wings formed by evergreens and columns topped with baskets of stone fruit. During performances, banners and Japanese lanterns were displayed around the theater. Shaw also crafted a sophisticated lighting system with tiers of floodlights and spotlights as well as many of the theater’s props and costumes.
Pipes of Pan Midsummer Moon Setp. 85 The first program in the theatrep. 91 First Play in Theatre 2




2017 News Release

2016 Ragdale Ring

2015 Ragdale Ring
Design With Company

2014 Ragdale Ring
The Bittertang Farm

2013 Ragdale Ring
Stephen Dietrich Lee