The 1st Chicago Architecture Biennial

Place: Chicago, Country: United States
Text by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit
Photos Tom Harris, Copyright Hedrich Blessing
courtesy of CAB - Chicago Architecture Biennial

Chicago Architecture Biennial Cultural Center 02

Installation view of the Chicago Architecture Biennial

The First Edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial – CAB
by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit

The first edition of the brand new Chicago Architecture Biennial – CAB takes place from 3 October, 2015, through 3 January, 2016 in various venues in Chicago.

The theme of this year’s edition is clearly expressed by its title, The State of the Art of Architecture, inspired by a 1977 conference which architect  Stanley Tigerman dedicated to the state-of-the-art of American architecture at the time.
Now, the Chicago Biennial expands that survey and, with the participation of both emerging and acclaimed international professionals, studios and firms, provides a worldwide overview of what the practice of architecture is today.

Chicago Architecture Biennial Cultural Center 01

The Chicago Cultural Center, core venue of the Biennial, photo by Spencer McNeil

Chicago Architecture Biennial Millenium Park

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects and NLÉ in Millennium Park 

Chicago Architecture Atelier Bow Wow

Atelier Bow­-Wow , Piranesi Circus, 2015

Chicago Architecture Sou Fujimoto

Sou Fujimoto Architects, Architecture is Everywhere, 2015; Moss Architects,
House No. 11 (Corridor House), 2015

Chicago Architecture Sou Fujimoto 02

Sou Fujimoto Architects, Architecture is Everywhere, 2015

With a quite diverse array of exhibitions, site-specific installations and special events, from late-2015 to early-2016 the Chicago Biennial depicts how architecture has evolved into a dynamic profession, which should provide answers to the multiple issues of contemporary society – from affordable housing to sustainability, from the constraints of global economy to the variable needs of local communities, and investigates how architects are reacting to this situation by developing an extraordinary array of different visions and interpretations of today’s world.

Among the most interesting works on view, Sou Fujimoto‘s “architecture is everywhere” installation questions about the meaning of today’s architecture. His “potato chips” model remembers me a maquette for a “Fascist House”, all made in cheese, that the Italian architect and designer Achille Castiglioni once presented at an academic examination during the Mussolini’s regime in the ’30s.  Similarly, Fujimotos’ work is perhaps provoking, but in a smart sense, since it arises sharp doubts on the factual sense (and fate) of contemporary architecture.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial, curated as co-directors by Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda, is supported by a committee composed by David Adjaye, Elizabeth Diller, Jeanne Gang, Frank Gehry, Sylvia Lavin, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Lord Peter Palumbo and Stanley Tigerman.

Robert Grima says “During our research, we have had conversations with hundreds of architects working in radically different cultural, social, and economic conditions. The Biennial is an occasion to explore the inspiring work that a new architectural generation is producing”.

Chicago Architecture Biennial Selgascano

Selgascano + Helloeverything, Casa A, 2015

Chicago Architecture Tomas Saraceno 

Tomas Saraceno – Installation view

Chicago Architecture Biennial Vo Trong Nghia

Vo Trong Nghia Architects (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) S House, 2014

Over 60 architectural offices from 30 countries present their projects in the core exhibition which takes place in Biennial headquarters at the Chicago Cultural Center, as well as in other venues across the city: Millennium Park, the Graham Foundation, the Water Tower Gallery,  72 E. Randolph, the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Stony Island Arts Bank.
Furthermore, on the occasion of the Biennial, CAB has commissioned a new pavilion to Rhode Island-based firm Ultramoderne, winner of an international design competition, which has been installed on Museum Campus.
You can find our map of the Chicago Biennial’s venues on this page.

Chicago Architecture Biennial venues Map Inexhibit

Chicago Architecture Biennial map of venues, image by Inexhibit

As mentioned before the core exhibition features a wide selection of architects and institutions from all over the world, including Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation (Spain, USA), Atelier Bow-Wow (Japan), Bjarke Ingels Group / BIG (Denmark), Tomas Saraceno (Germany), Giancarlo Mazzanti (Colombia), Gramazio & Kohler Research (Switzerland), MIT (USA), junya.ishigami+associates (Japan), Lateral Office (Canada), Selgascano (Spain), Sou Fujimoto Architects ( Japan), Studio Boeri (Italy), Studio Gang (USA),  Vo Trong Nghia Architects (Vietnam),  and WORKac+ Ant Farm / Amale Andraos & DDan Wood, Chip Lord & Curtis Schreier (USA), among others.

Chicago Architecture Biennial House Gramazio Kohler

Foreground: Johnston Marklee, House is a House is a House is a House, 2015; background:
Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) + Self-assembly Lab, MIT, Rock Print, 2015

Chicago Architecture Biennial Tatiana Bilbao

Tatiana Bilbao S.C., Sustainable Housing 

Chicago Architecture installation view 01

Mark Wasiuta, Marcos Sanchez, Adam Bandler + GSAPP Exhibitions, Environmental Communications: Contact High 

The vast program of events of CAB offers performances, talks, debates, workshops and educational activities, including the world premiere of “Tesseract of Time” by Jessica Lang and Steven Holl, guided tours to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Johnson campus in Racine – Wisconsin, lectures by Jaques Herzog and Thom Mayne, screening of films such as The Hawks and Sparrow by Pier Paolo Pasolini and The Fountainhead by King Vidor, and the performance Superpower of Ten based on a film created by Charles and Ray Eames for IBM in 1977, just to list a few.

The complete program of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is available at:

Chicago Architecture RAAF

RAAAF (Rietveld Architecture­Art­Affordances) (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), The End of Sitting – Cut Out, 2015

Chicago Architecture Biennlial Kere

Kéré Architecture, Place for Gathering, 2015

All images courtesy of CAB – Chicago Architecture Biennial

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