Architecture

The Chicago Architecture Biennial Returns Through January 5

Photo courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

Explore the latest innovations in global design at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, running through January 5, 2020. Featuring over 80 contributors from more than 20 countries, the biennial is the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America. The free event is headquartered at the Chicago Cultural Center, with related happenings taking place across the city.

Photo courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

The third iteration of the biennial focuses on the theme “…And Other Such Stories.” The event explores architecture’s relationship to culture, history, and nature around the world, examining its current role and power to shape the future. Exhibitions focus on four curatorial frames: landscapes of belonging and sovereignty, sites of memory, rights and reclamation, and civic involvement. Rather than starchitects or vanity projects, this year’s biennial emphasizes equity and our impact on nature.

“Our goal with…‘And Other Such Stories’ was to find inspiration in the built environment of Chicago that would spur a conversation globally on our rights, memories, and relationship with the natural world,” explained biennial artistic director Yesomi Umolu.

Photo courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

The biennial takes many shapes to discuss these themes. In addition to installations at the Chicago Cultural Center, programming includes pop-ups, site activations, lectures, workshops, tours, and youth activities at more than 40 partner sites around town.

One of the biennial highlights is a memorial to victims of gun violence. MASS Design Group built glass worker cottages, a historic form of affordable housing, adorned with remembrances and victims’ personal items.

Another site in Bronzeville reimagines a school that was closed in 2013. The former Anthony Overton Elementary School is being used for installations and community activations.

“How Together” is an installation that creates a place of assembly, or agora, from recycled materials and provides instruction on how to transform spaces. “Marj and Prairie: Eating Our Histories” is a seed library from plants that are nearing extinction due to changing climates and farming practices. Even the biennial’s hub, the Chicago Cultural Center, is part of the exhibition as the Settler Colonial City Project exposes the Colonial violence entwined with the building’s history.

Photo courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

“The biennial represents a remarkable time for the city, when citizens, visitors, cultural organizations, and businesses are all able to come together to celebrate and explore our shared histories and envision new possibilities for the future of cities,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial offers unexpected ways to think about design and a platform to discuss how it can shape our future. Check the CAB’s website for more information and exhibition details.

Chicago Architecture Biennial
Chicago Cultural Center (and various locations)
78 East Washington Street
Through January 5, 2020
Free