The big one is almost upon us. America’s inaugural architecture biennial launches in Chicago this weekend looking to capture the public imagination and throw architecture into the mainstream spotlight in the same way that the Venice Biennale has done for Europe. The event — entitled “The State of the Art of Architecture” — runs from October 3 through January 3 and will feature hundreds of buildings and bold ideas by some of the most cutting-edge firms from around the globe.
The Windy City was a natural choice for this grand festival of architecture. It is intrinsically linked with some of the greatest names to have graced the profession over the last century, from Mies van der Rohe to Frank Lloyd Wright. Iconic buildings by both will be accessible via a plethora of tours and exhibitions for the entirety of the Biennial, but what about the modern-day trendsetters?
We’ve highlighted some prominent firms whose work will have a particularly strong presence at Chicago’s opening weekend. Let us know which exhibition you are most looking forward to seeing in the comments section below!
A photograph of Chicago commissioned by the Chicago Architecture Biennial, © Iwan Baan.
1. Bold: Alternative Scenarios for Chicago by Skidmore Owings and Merrill and more, Chicago Cultural Center
For a festival of architecture in a city synonymous with tall buildings, it seems fitting that skyscraper aficionados Skidmore Owings and Merrill play a significant part. Along with 19 local architecture firms and artists, SOM presents big ideas to improve Chicago featuring an extraordinary array of proposals from filling 15,000 empty lots with communal kitchens to reversing the Chicago River! This free exhibition is open to the public at the Chicago Cultural Center from Saturday.
2. Polis Station by Studio Gang Architects, Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago’s Architecture Biennial wouldn’t be complete without a significant contribution by one of the hottest firms currently based in the Windy City, Studio Gang. The firm behind Aqua — voted the world’s best skyscraper by Emporis in 2009 — is hosting a fascinating free exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center entitled “Polis Station” showing sketches and models of reimagined police stations designed to foster trust between residents and officers.
David Adjaye’s “Making Place” exhibition, via Chicagoist.
3. Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye by Adjaye Associates, Art Institute of Chicago
British firm Adjaye Associates has been making waves across the States over the last decade with projects such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver and the under-construction Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The architect’s work is now on display at the Art Institute of Chicago in a huge, immersive exhibition entitled “Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye.” Full-scale models, installations, and interactive exhibits make this a must-see for anyone in the city this weekend.
Fresh from receiving a global award for their groundbreaking Lali Gurans Orphanage in Nepal, New York-based firm MOS Architects has teamed up with Tatiana Bilbao and Vo Trong Nghia Architects to present “Three Full-Scale Houses,” a showcase of innovation in the residential realm. On show for free at the Chicago Cultural Center, the exhibition illuminates the details of designs by all three firms, including a bungalow with a construction price of just $4,000.
Johnston Marklee’s MCA Café Concept Proposal, rendering by Tom Hancocks.
5. Grid Is a Grid Is a Grid Is a Grid Is a Grid by Johnston Marklee, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Los Angeles-based firm Johnston Marklee has been commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art to redesign the interior of the institution, and this immersive installation acts as an echo of the Museum’s past and a glimpse of the future. Riffing off the grid of Joseph Paul Kleihues’ original 1960s building, Marklee’s layered grid manipulates the scale of the space and forms a skeletal hint of the redesigned spaces still to come. Entry to the Museum is $12, and the Grid is on display from Saturday.
Check out more about the Chicago Architecture Biennial on the official event website.