The first ever Chicago Architecture Biennial closed January 3, with over half a million visitors having attended the event. An architecture exhibition of unprecedented size on the continent, the Biennial gathered 93 projects from 120 offices from over 30 countries to discuss the “State of the Art of Architecture.” We take a look at some of the Biennial's highlights after the break.
Opened on October 1, 2015, the Biennial’s main exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center featured a wide range of a projects -- from modular affordable housing to experiments in phenomenology and statements of sustainability.
We had the opportunity to talk with those involved with the Biennial, including Sou Fujimoto on his popular “Architecture is Everywhere” exhibit and Joseph Grima, one of the artistic directors of the event.
There were also several events throughout the Biennial period, including panels and performances, such as “We Know How to Order” by Bryony Roberts, Asher Waldron and the South Shore Drill Team, which explored the various architectures present in oppression.
Several lakeside kiosk pavilions were also built, located on Chase Promenade in Millennium Park. The projects were an opportunity for offices and students to exhibit simple, powerful ideas at the scale of the pavilion.
Other programming included exhibitions, installations and events at Rebuild Foundation’s Stony Island Arts Bank, Graham Foundation, and SC Johnson’s tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed campus. Overall, 114 cultural and educational institutions in the Chicago area presented 313 programs and 67 exhibitions partnered with the Biennial.
A partnership with the Chicago Architecture Foundation allowed over 10,000 students from kindergarten to grade 12 to experience the Biennial through a program of bilingual tours, a downloadable guide for children and a teen ambassador program. The “ChiDesign” competition was just one partnered event, asking architects to propose a new mixed-use learning center for the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
"The first-ever Chicago Architecture Biennial was an unequivocal success, exceeding our expectations for attendance and bolstered Chicago’s reputation as the vanguard of architectural thinking on the national and international stage," said Chicago Mayor Emanuel. "The City of Chicago is synonymous with architectural innovation, from the world’s first modern skyscrapers to the forefront of urban design, which is why Chicago was naturally suited to host an architectural event of this scale."