Chicago Architecture Biennial

Looking Ahead...Two Big Events This Fall

Summers in Chicago always seem too short. Thankfully, every season has its own beauty - and this fall will be no exception. Two big events occur this fall that celebrate the splendor of Chicago’s architectural treasures and promote emerging talent in architecture, design, and the arts.

'Make New History', 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Image: Chicago Biennial/Twitter.

The first, is the return of the Chicago Architectural Biennial on September 19, 2019. This year’s event (the third) will consider architecture as a field that shapes community and memory. Chicago-based curator and writer Yesomi Umolu is serving as the Artistic Director of the Biennial’s 2019 edition. More than 100 programs will take place at upwards of 50 venues over the course of the Biennial through January 5, 2020.

“Chicago is at its best when a diverse range of communities, organizations, and individuals come together to learn from one another, collaborate, and explore our shared histories and hopes for the future. The comprehensive range of programing taking place during the Biennial is an exciting example of the exchange that makes our city so dynamic,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

The second major event is the Chicago Architecture Center's Open House Chicago, which returns on October 19-20, 2019. The event is a free public festival that offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 250 buildings across Chicago. Sites reflect the cultural diversity and history of Chicago, as well as the unique character of each community. Locations include private clubs, residential spaces, offices, hotels, theaters, design/architecture studios, schools and places of worship as well as manufacturing, cultural and government facilities.

I hope to share news and images from both events on Twitter.

Chicago Architecture Biennial Announces Initial List of 2019 Participants

Earlier this month the Chicago Architecture Biennial announced the first group of contributors to the 2019 edition, titled …and other such stories. The biennial will form an expansive and multi-faceted exploration of the field of architecture and the built environment globally.

The first 51 contributors — spanning the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia — form an initial, representative group, and include an early selection of ambitious commissioned projects. These projects will address key questions about the implications of architecture as it relates to land, memory, rights, and civic participation, and are particularly inspired by the history and conditions of the City of Chicago.

Biennial Executive Director Todd Palmer said of the list: "We are thrilled to be partner with such a diverse and insightful group of contributors and tell important stories about who we are, and who we may become."

Over the coming months, the Biennial will announce the full list of contributors and key programming for this year’s edition of the Biennial. You can learn more here.

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.

Chicago Architecture Biennial announces 2017 Curators and Theme

photo credit: Eric Staudenmaier Photography

photo credit: Eric Staudenmaier Photography

At an event last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Architecture Biennial officials named Los Angeles-based architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee artistic directors of the 2017 event. The event's theme will be “Make New History,” and, according to the curators, focus on the relationship between modernity and history, and the relationship between art and architecture.

According to their press release:

Of critical importance in architectural discussion today is the renewed role that history plays in its making. One of the most dramatic ruptures in the evolution of architecture over the last century has been the fissure between history and modernity. The insistence on being unprecedented and unrelated to architectures of the past reached new heights at the beginning of the millennium, as more and more architects became reluctant to consider what they do as being part of a larger collective project or part of a longer architectural history.

Last year’s biennial, themed “The State of the Art of Architecture,” was largely a broad-based survey of contemporary architecture and emerging designers. Johnston and Lee have chosen to narrow the focus.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial seeks to convene the world’s leading practitioners, theorists, and commentators in the field of architecture and urbanism to explore, debate, and demonstrate the significance of architecture to contemporary society. For updates about 2017 and for more information, please visit their website.

Chicago's Towering Architectural Achievements

Yesterday, CBS Sunday Morning ran a brief video on Chicago's architectural heritage and the conclusion of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which closed Sunday until it's return in 2017. CBS' Anna Werner speaks with Studio Gang's Jeanne Gang and Chicago Architecture Biennial director Sarah Herda. 

Considered the birthplace of the modern skyscraper, the city has made architecture one of its main tourist attractions. On any given day, dozens of architecture tours wind through the city's waterways and streets. The buildings are considered works of art ... and their designers are treated as directors are in Hollywood.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial served to shine a spotlight on the city in 2015. Watch the video here. The Navy Pier Centennial and the Wrigley Field renovation will certainly contribute to the buzz in 2016. What else will the year hold for architecture in Chicago? Watch this space.