Suzanne Lovell Inc


Chicago Architecture Biennial: Making New History

August 31, 2017

James Welling, 8482, 2016, from the series Chicago, 2016-2017. Image courtesy of World Architecture Community.

The second annual Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) begins on Saturday, September 16th. There is no city better poised to hold the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America than Chicago. Chicago is famous for its world class architecture and is home of the very first skyscraper.

This year Chicago has boldly acknowledged the relationship between architecture and art by overlapping two momentous fairs: the Chicago Architecture Biennial and EXPO Chicago.

The theme, “Make New History” is a take on artist Ed Ruscha’s 2009 work. Johnston explained to Architectural Digest it means to begin “looking at old things in new way.” Image courtesy of TS.

The theme this year, set by Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, is “Make New History.” To illustrate this theme, Johnston and Lee have selected over 140 professionals from over 20 different countries. This curated group of architects and artists have designed exhibits that will illuminate how the latest architectural developments can and will make new history throughout the world. By examining the past, we can expect contributors to reinterpret historical architectural designs and enhancing them to suit the needs of modern life and modern environments.

Serie Architects, The Tote, Mumbai, India, 2011. Image © Serie Architects. Image courtesy of CAB participant Serie Architects.

In line with 2015, the list of participants is refreshingly comprised mostly of rising star architectural firms. Unlike others, CAB focuses on the quality of firms and does not feel pressured to include more. Architectural Digest has lets us know there will be no celebrity architects participating, although noteworthy exceptions include Stanley Tigerman and Pritzker-winning Japanese firm SANAA.

CAB participant and award winning African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré designed Colorscape for his first solo exhibition in the US last year at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Image courtesy of Architecture Daily.

The Chicago Cultural Center will serve as the main site for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Image courtesy of Dezeen.

The Chicago Cultural Center will be the main site for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. With its windows bedecked in architectural illustrations, the interior will focus on the spatial experience of the exhibition according to AD. Given the feedback from 2015’s biennial, Johnston and Lee have invested in studying what the space will feel like to visitors and how the overall experience will feel.

The Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall. ©Iker Gil, image courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial Blog.

To enhance the visitor experience, participants have been commissioned to build what architectural environments within the Chicago Cultural Center. Just like in 2015 these environments will engage visitors differently: some spaces might offer seating for rest or conversation, while other spaces might further the conversation about the intersection of art and architecture.

One highlight from last year was the installation by Atelier Bow-Wow of Tokyo. Taking an otherwise inaccessible courtyard space, it was transformed into a real-life Piranesi drawing. By installing ramps, ladders, and a floating stairway a top a bed of evergreen branches, Atelier Bow-Wow mesmerized visitors and kept us intrigued. Installations such as this are what keep us looking forward to this year’s biennial.

Tokyo’s Atelier Bow-Wow 2015 installation at The Chicago Cultural Center. Image courtesy of Architectural Digest.

In addition to the Chicago Cultural Center, there will be multiple anchor sites throughout various Chicago neighborhoods. These anchor sites will each have their own programming unique to their history and their contributions to both art and architecture.

We are enthusiastically looking forward to visiting the DuSable Museum of African American History’s exhibit Singing Stones. Singing Stones, curated by the Palais de Tokyo’s Katell Jaffrès with exhibition design by Andrew Schachman. Shachman was nominated by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Singing Stones brings together 11 emerging artists from both the French and Chicago art communities, as part of the Institut Français’ first off-site exhibition in the United States.

The dome of The Roundhouse at the DuSable Museum of African American History. The Palais de Tokyo will be the first public exhibition within the completely conserved space designed by famous Daniel H. Burnham. Image courtesy of Palais de Tokyo.

Presented at The Roundhouse, Singing Stones will continue to explore dialogue between architecture and the artistic process. A portion of the original works will be in dialogue with the surrounding architectural envelope: These original works will distinguish themselves by providing an artistically supportive frame for the works of other exhibiting artists.

The Roundhouse of the DuSable Museum of African American History. We look forward to seeing how Singing Stones utilizes such a beautiful space with such strong architectural elements. Image courtesy of Palais de Tokyo.

The anchor site of the DuSable Museum is completely apropos for this exhibition. This historic Chicago location plays off of the biennial’s “Make New History” theme by achieving just that: Hosting the first ever Palais de Tokyo US exhibition, housed within a historic building by a fêted Chicago architect. Furthermore, it illustrates the symbiotic relationship of how art exhibits embrace and work dependently with their unyielding architectural environment, reinforcing Expo’s acknowledgement of the relationship across these disciplines.

Stanley Tigerman, American (b. 1930), “The Titanic, 1978.” Photomontage on paper, 11” X 14”. Gift of Stanley Tigernam, 1984.802, The Art Institute of Chicago. AIC, Past Forward: Architecture and Design at the Art Institute. Exhibit opens September 12, 2017. © The Art Institute of Chicago. Image and details courtesy of the the Art Institute of Chicago.

Strengthening Chicago’s opinion of the inherent relationship of art and architecture is the Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibit set to coincide with the biennial: Past Forward: Architecture and Design at the Art Institute.

This new installation will be entirely devoted to the museum’s influential collection of architectural drawings and furniture, graphic, and industrial designs of the 20th and 21st centuries as explained by the museum. Much like the Chicago Architecture Biennial, this Modern Wing display will be the first of its kind in the United States.

all(zone) and Rachaporn Choochuey. Light House: The Art of Living Lightly, 2015. Gift of all(zone) in collaboration with Offscene Films. Image courtesy of Dezeen and details courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.  

As a multidisciplinary firm with infinite talent, we couldn’t be more thrilled that Chicago has acknowledged the important and influential relationship between architecture and art.

Be sure to check in next week as we prepare for EXPO Chicago and follow us on Instagram as we attend these events!

CAB participant Aires Mateus, Alcácer do Sal Residences, 2010. Image and details courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Details to Attend:

Chicago Architecture Biennial

Begins Saturday, September 16, 2017 and ends Sunday, January 7, 2018.

Main location: The Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60602 (entrances on E. Washington and E. Randolph Streets).

Cost: Free

Partner Programs

Palais de Tokyo’s Singing Stones

Begins Tuesday, September 12, 2017 and ends Sunday, October 29, 2017.

Location: The DuSable Museum of African American History, The Roundhouse, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago, IL 60637.

Cost: Free

Past Forward: Architecture and Design at the Art Institute

Begins Tuesday, September 12, 2017 and will be ongoing

Location: The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603

Cost: Tickets start at $29.00