The rainbow pylons along Halsted Street will soon feature plaques commemorating notable LGBT people from around the world and throughout history. The Legacy Walk plaques will be unveiled at a dedication ceremony on Oct. 11the 25th anniversary commemoration of National Coming Out Day.
According to the organization's website, the mission of the Legacy Project (the non-profit corporation overseeing the creation of the Legacy Walk) is "to inform, inspire, enlighten, and foster an appreciation for the crucial role LGBT people have played in the advancement of world history and culture."
The Legacy Project designed the bronze plaques in cooperation with the Northalsted Business Alliance, and Impact Architectural Signs is producing them. They will be cast from solid bronze with a laser-etched photo relief and hand-applied painted background for texture and finish. Each will be sealed in a durable acrylic polymer clear coat for lasting protection outdoors and resistance to routine vandalism such as stickers and tagging. All plaques will include a portrait and brief biography of each inductee. A separate engraved solid bronze dedication plaque mounted below each plaque will identify the donor(s) who sponsored each inductee.
"As a Chicagoan, it was a pleasure to work on this project. It's a great blend of history, education, and architecture. We're grateful that we were selected to work on this historic project," said Shabbir Moosabhoy, co-owner of Impact Architectural Signs.
Victor Salvo, founder and executive director of the Legacy Project said, "What struck me was that Shabbir, even though he isn't from our community, loved the Legacy Project and instinctively understood why it was important. He was willing to go the extra mile to help us develop a project that was years away from realization. That he stayed with us and offered whatever advice and help he couldincluding having a terrific mock-up made for us to use to market plaque sponsorships, without having a contract up frontis a testament to his ability to see beyond the paperwork and appreciate the uniqueness of the project and the larger opportunity it represents for everyone involved. His graphic assistant, Jesus Perez, couldn't have been more helpful."
K&K Ironworkswhich produces and installs steel fabricators and erectors that run the gamut from high rises to handrails (they did "The Bean" at Millennium Park)is providing the curved mechanical housing (which will read "The Legacy Walk") for the plaques that will be affixed to the pylons.
Bob Sullivan, president of K&K Ironworks, said, "I'm very glad to be involved with this groundbreaking and fantastic project. Before I met Victor, I didn't know anything about LGBT people or their history. As Victor and I collaborated on the project, I was able to learn so much from him. It's been a pleasure to work with such a hardworking guy."
"It took us a long time to find the right company to manufacture the mechanical housings, but it was worth the wait. Project Manager Lou Cerny translated the architect's drawings into the shop drawings that the units are being built from, and will be coordinating the entire installation. Lou is a great guy, and a consummate professional," said Salvo. "I didn't know what to expect from dealing with union steelworkersI was a little intimidated, to be perfectly honestbut I was warmly and enthusiastically welcomed. They loved the project from day one and wanted to be involved. I couldn't be happier with their attention to detail and follow-through."
Architect Robert V. Sierzega of Robert V. Sierzega and Associates, Ltd.a licensed architectural firm with 24 years of varied experienceproduced the drawings, which were adapted from the plans Salvo first created from sketches dating back to 1999. Sierzega coordinated Salvo's design with the structural engineer, Moshe Calamaro; the engineer, Terry Malloy, PE; and also produced the city of Chicago permit drawings.
"I think it's exciting that the LGBT community is recognizing LGBT people from all walks of life for their contributions to the greater society. We didn't all magically appear only after Stonewall," said Sierzega.
"I've known Rob for almost 30 years. We worked together when he first got his architect's license," said Salvo."Because of my background, I did the engineering and original detailing of the mechanical housings but we needed an architect to take the lead in formalizing everything, adding the mechanical specs, and securing the sign-offs from the electrical and structural engineers that the city required. I went to Rob and explained our needs, and he stepped up to the plate and not only did his own work pro bonohe also got the engineers to donate their time as well."
Salvo also worked with the 44th Ward office over the last two years to get the Legacy Walk off the ground. The office helped guide the project as it moved through various city departments, including arranging the permits and getting the cooperation of city officials.
"I'm honored to have helped navigate this process through the city and look forward to the dedication on Oct. 11," said 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney. "We've been working with various city departments for over a year to put a user agreement in place and obtain appropriate permits. All the departments have been extremely helpful as we have moved through the permit process and passage of the agreement by the City Council.
"This is one of the most unique historical installations in the city and for the LGBT community globally. Victor Salvo and the Legacy Project board should be proud of the work they have done to make this project a reality."
Salvo will be testifying before the City of Chicago Transportation Committee Sept. 26, and the city council's final sign-off will take place Oct. 3. No public funds are being used to finance any part of the Legacy Walk.
See www.legacyprojectchicago.org/Dedication_Tickets.html to purchase tickets. For more information on the companies involved, visit www.impactsigns.com/bronze-plaque, www.kkironworks.com and www.sierzega.net/003aboutus.html .