Johnston Marklee Named Artistic Directors of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial

© Eric Staudenmaier Courtesy Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) has announced that Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, of the Los Angeles-based firm Johnston Marklee, have been named Artistic Directors for the 2017 event. Following a successful inaugural run in 2015, the second edition of the biennial will take place from September 16 - December 31, 2017.

Speaking exclusively to ArchDaily, Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee said:

We are thrilled with the invitation to be the Artistic Directors for the second edition of the largest exhibition of contemporary architecture in North America. To have a global platform to address current ideas and showcase the talent in the field of architecture in a city with such an extraordinary architectural pedigree is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Johnston Marklee. House is a House is a House is a House is a House. Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial / Tom Harris, 2015

Since 1998 the practice has worked on residential, commercial, and institutional work with a particular focus on the arts. They frequently collaborate with artists, visual designers and writers to, in their own words, “broaden the breadth of [their] design research” in order to maintain “permeable boundaries for greater results.” The practice is jointly led by Sharon Johnston, a graduate of Stanford University, and Mark Lee, a graduate of the University of Southern California. Both have studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

For the 2017 Biennial, the duo have selected the theme of “Make New History,” which will explore two central ideas: “the axis between history and modernity and the axis between architecture and art.” The theme looks to examine the relationship between history and contemporary architecture, as well as the connection between architecture and art. Precedents will be analyzed at different scales and through the lens of Chicago's own rich architectural history.

Also announced was the addition of Todd Palmer, formerly of the National Public Housing Museum, as the Biennial's Executive Director. He will work alongside the CAB board to establish the Biennial as a “world-class cultural attraction for the city.”

Under the theme of “State of the Art of Architecture,” the inaugural Biennial was North America’s first and largest international exhibition dedicated to the display of contemporary architecture, featurings works from over 120 architecture and design offices from more than 30 countries. Over half a million people from all over the world attended the event.

“The Chicago Architecture Biennial’s return in 2017 confirms Chicago as an architectural hub,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Last year’s edition was a resounding success, and I’m pleased to see the great planning and support for the second Biennial, which will be even better. Not only is the Biennial’s return a testament to our city’s architectural significance, but it speaks to Chicago’s place as one of the world’s cultural destinations and our place in the world of architecture and design.”

AD Interviews: Sharon Johnston & Mark Lee

News via Chicago Architecture Biennial.

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Cite: AAA. "Johnston Marklee Named Artistic Directors of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial" 21 Sep 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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