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Chicago To Host Largest Architectural Exhibition In North America Next Year

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 25, 2014 6:00PM


With an eye toward boosting tourism and leveraging the city’s reputation for beautiful architecture, the Emanuel administration announced Tuesday a global exhibition of architecture and design modeled after the Venice Biennale to take place next year.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial will be ”the largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America” and will take place Oct. 1, 2015 through Jan. 3, 2016. It will be co-curated by Graham Foundation director Sarah Herda and architect, writer, researcher and curator Joseph Grima. The two will work with an “International Advisory Committee” currently featuring superstar architects such as Frank Gehry, David Adjaye, Peter Palumbo, Elizabeth Diller and Chicago-based architects Stanley Tigerman and Jeanne Gang.

Large-scale installations are expected to be showcased at the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park and in neighborhoods across the city. These installations will feature the work of established and up-and-coming architects and address the social, environmental, aesthetic, technological, and economic issues of modern design and architecture. The Biennial is partnering with artist Theaster Gates to develop installations and public programs on the city’s South side.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chicago is a fitting location to host the biennial.

“Architecture defines a city, and no city has been defined by its architecture—or has influenced global architectural design—like Chicago. The Chicago Architecture Biennial will showcase the city’s widely-respected architectural heritage, promote architecture as one of our thriving creative sectors, and deliver a rich cultural experience to our neighborhoods."

The Biennial is expected to be funded through private donations and has already received a $2.5 million grant from BP but Emanuel said at least $1.5 million more will be needed to stage a successful Biennial. The oil giant is also the festival’s presenting sponsor. Arch Daily notes that, so the Chicago Biennial won't compete with Venice for tourists, it will be held every odd year.