Solid Ground-Steps to Manhood - CODAworx

Solid Ground-Steps to Manhood

Submitted by Jose Aleman

Client: La Casa Norte

Location: Chicago, IL, United States

Completion date: 2009

Artwork budget: $18,000

Project Team


Jose Aleman


La Casa Norte


A concrete block wall with cantilevered seating. Finished in tiles of ceramic, glass, marble and terracotta, built on a 16 foot long concrete foundation with limestone caps. The wall is approximately 8 feet long at its highest point. The plexiglas figures are 30 inches tall.


The building is for the personal development of young Chicago menages 16-21, who had previously been homeless. The client wanted an inspired wall that had several functions: a meeting place for the men that specifically reflected something about them, and that had the flexibility to accommodate donor plaques in the future. The pixelation created by the tiles allows for the placement of gold and bronze plated plaques.


The architect designed a stair that leads from the second floor to end directly in front of the foundation for this wall. I interviewed staff from Solid Ground and from La Casa Norte to gather information for a brainstorming session. The young men met me for an in-depth conversation about this new meeting place in the garden. The wall symbolizes and presents the hopes and words about their development in society and as young men. The words on the steps are their own.

Additional Information

The project has been successful as a gathering spot for the residents and has weathered very well. As an architect, I needed little technical input on such a simple project that had predetermined locations for art.