World Architecture Day

World Architecture Day, celebrated on the first Monday of every October, was set up in 2005 by the International Union Of Architects (UIA) to show appreciation for the work architects do and to celebrate some of the great global architectural works, network and increase collective responsibility to create better future in our lives.

This year, the UIA representing more than 1 million architects worldwide, selected the theme of the World Architecture Day 2017 as "Climate Change Action!".

The American Institute of Architects asserts that "architects play a vital role in combating climate change. Buildings are major producers of carbon, so climate change poses both major obstacles and opportunities for the profession." Following the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, the UIA has called upon all architects and architecture organizations in the world to mobilize efforts to respond. Learn more here. Happy World Architecture Day.

On the Chicago Architecture Biennial 2017

You don't have to look very far to find information about the Chicago Architecture Biennial. News outlets from around the globe are focused on Chicago and what is being billed as the "largest architecture and design exhibition in North America." This year’s Biennial, which opened on September 16th, features over 141 practitioners from more than 20 countries addressing the 2017 theme “Make New History.”

With the public opening of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, curators Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee discuss the ideas behind the theme, "Make New History."

British architecture critic Rowan Moore wrote in The Guardian:

The Chicago biennial shows nuanced, subtle stuff, and it’s sometimes easier to say what these architects are not than what they are. They are not iconic, futuristic or dogmatic. They don’t claim to save the world – which, one suspects, the next generation of architects will want to do. They don’t go in for manifestos or stylistic labels, for which reason a collective celebration like the Chicago biennial has been slow to happen. Now it has, it’s an important event.

Here are a few quick links to explore what others are saying about the Biennial, including the exhibits that top the list for 'must see' elements of the event:

15 Must-See Installations at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial
Chicago Architecture Biennial: 10 things we loved
Five fundamental problems with the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial
The Chicago Architecture Biennial: Hard to understand but easy to enjoy

Feel free to share your opinion about the Biennial in the comments section below.

Daley Center Picasso’s 50th birthday

On August 15, 1967, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley famously remarked “what is strange to us today will be familiar tomorrow" as he unveiled an untitled monumental sculpture by Pablo Picasso at Daley Plaza. This month the city will mark this popular public art piece's 50th birthday.

The finished sculpture was executed from Picasso's 42-inch steel model and is 50 feet high and weighs 162 tons. The Picasso was certainly subject of some controversy in its first years. On August 25, 1967, Time Magazine reported: "Right up to the moment that the billowing blue percale veil covering Pablo Picasso's 50-ft. sculpture came tumbling down last week in Chicago, the debate continued. Was it a bird, a woman, an Afghan hound, a Barbary ape, a cruel hoax, a Communist plot, or Superman?" Nevertheless, Chicago also received many expressions of congratulations on its important acquisition and Time praised the city's "vigor and vision" and described the Chicago Picasso as "one of the most magnificent windfalls in its history."

Curbed Chicago reports that Picasso’s big birthday party will run from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 8 at Daley Plaza. Admission is free to the public.

Film Challenge Bringing Architectural Stories to Life

The American Institute of Architect’s third annual I Look Up Film Challenge is inviting architects and filmmakers to collaborate in bringing architectural stories to life. This year’s challenge calls for films that highlight projects and architects that are helping to change communities for the better. This year's campaign hopes to shine a light on the powerful social impact of architects and their work.

A short documentary film on the positive changes in Midtown, a neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi, launches the 2017 Challenge and introduces this year's theme, Blueprint for Better. Duvall Decker, a Jackson architecture firm, worked alongside residents and community leaders to transform a struggling area into an example of healthy community revitalization. Architect Roy Decker, AIA opens the film saying: "Architecture, at its best, is practiced when it is in service to a community or a larger goal - a public benefit of some kind."

The film ends with the quote: "This world is a gift. If you're going to build, you should build well." Entries are due next month and public voting will run from 8/21/17 to 10/06/17. To learn more, visit

The Other Mies van der Rohe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 - 1969) in S.R. Crown Hall at IIT College of Architecture PHOTO: Hedrich Blessing

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 - 1969) in S.R. Crown Hall at IIT College of Architecture PHOTO: Hedrich Blessing

A few years ago, BTLA had the opportunity to work on the iconic Farnsworth House, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. (images in our portfolio). So we were particularly pleased to hear that Elmhurst Art Museum plans to unveil the original facade of the other Mies-designed home in Chicago's suburbs - McCormick House (which has been obscured by an addition connecting it to the museum). The iconic facade of this historically significant building will be visible for the first time in 20 years as part of Elmhurst Art Museum’s 20th anniversary celebration.

The Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin wrote about the project in this article a few days ago, as did Architectural Digest, discussing the history of the building and the effort to bring it back to life. The McCormick House was moved from its original site in Elmhurst in 1994. In 1997, a design by Chicago architects DeStefano + Partners (now Lothan Van Hook DeStefano Architecture) made it possible for the house to be incorporated into the then-new museum. Here's a video, featuring Avram Lothan, discussing Mies and the McCormick House: 

 “The decision to connect the house to the museum in 1997 was with Mies’ idea of universal space in mind,” says Executive Director Jenny Gibbs. “The museum has since evolved its thinking and I am thrilled to lead the charge in unveiling our hidden treasure.”

According to museum staff, Heritage Architecture Studio will be working with Elmhurst Art Museum Executive Director Jenny Gibbs to oversee the work of Berglund Construction to be completed in 2017. Barry Bergdoll (architecture and design curator at MoMA) is advising on the project and curating a long-term exhibition, Mies In Chicago which will open in 2018.