A juicy tidbit from the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The number of projects in the Chicago Cultural Center right now is a bit dizzying, but we can only imagine what the place was like during the installation. It is a small miracle that it all fit, let alone got assembled correctly. The process was not without snafus.
For much of its early history, architecture was more than a pragmatic response to the problem of shelter. It was infused by craft. “Craft has existed in all kinds of industry, especially architecture, for a long time,” said Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH) principal Matthew Johnson. “But I feel it it lost its way in the twentieth century as we chased efficiency over quality.”
If you’re in town for the Chicago Architecture Biennial, be sure to visit the newly-opened Stony Island Arts Bank, a formerly derelict 1923 bank structure on Chicago’s South Side that has been transformed into a spectacular center for exhibitions, artist residencies, and the preservation of archival collections of black culture. The building’s rebirth was made possible by artist Theaster Gates’ Rebuild Foundation, which has renovated three other buildings in the area as part of its program of “culturally driven redevelopment.”
Day two at the Chicago Architecture Biennial continued to deliver with a mix of the best international talent and local practitioners who are rethinking the way we build our cities. We were on the ground battling the wind in the crisp Chicago fall. Here are some of our favorite things we found.
Performance has been the breakout surprise of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. While many of the works inside the Chicago Cultural Center grapple with issues of urbanism, politics, and the resonances of Modernism (especially Mies’ oversized presence in the city) in contemporary culture, the three performances included in the opening weekend program address and embody what is at stake. Read More
After a marathon session of presentations of all architects/artists in the biennial Thursday afternoon was marked by a preview of the complex, yet succinct exhibit House Housing capturing the history of inequality of designed inhabitation. Staged as an open house in one of last remaining buildings of one of the first federally-funded housing complex in Chicago, the exhibition is a walk-through into the part of the future home of the National Public Housing Museum (NPHM).
The day started with a marathon session involving all participants in the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Hans-Ulrich Obrist, celebrated curator at the Serpentine gallery in London, together with Sarah Herda, director of the Graham Foundation, and architect Joseph Grima, both Chicago Biennial directors, asked 99 architects one simple question: What is urgent? Every participant had 15 seconds to speak, followed by impromptu questions by the curators. The responses were billed as “Telegrams to the World.”
“We were outraged by what we saw—by the violence in everyday life,” said Jeanne Gang when asked about the impetuous behind her firm’s project Polis Project, a proposed reinvention of the typical police station on view at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The work, like any number of projects in the exhibition, highlights the what curator Joseph Grima calls “architectural agency,” where firms take on projects not for a client, but out of a sense of urgency to architecturally address important issues. Read More
The international architecture cognoscenti have descended on the Chicago Cultural Center with a motherlode of new content from Thailand to Ecuador, ranging from robotically-assembled structures to investigations into social and infrastructural inequality. The consequences of this assemblage will unfold over the next few months, but one room in the Cultural Center is particularly clear in its ambition and vision for the future.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin, Mayor Rahm Emanuel rattled off a few of his favorite buildings in the fair city of Chicago. Rahmbo steered clear of the supertalls—no Sears, Hancock, or Trump—and he’s apparently a thoroughly modern guy, skipping the old Water Tower, the Board of Trade or any classical designs.