Following the State of the Art of Architecture, the theme chosen by Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda for the first edition in 2015, this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial explores the past to identify new directions in the future of architecture. Curators Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee invited over 140 participants to “Make New History”, proposing, through different media, ideas and paradigms that revolve around four fundamental approaches to reading history: buildings, materials used, image, and therefore the representation of architecture, and civic history, intended as the meaning of architecture in the community and in the city. “Whether they take the form of drawings, installations, environments or performances, biennial projects reflect the ongoing significance of the past and the myriad ways that history is invoked in the production of new forms of architectural thought”. In the statement, the artistic directors emphasize that “when a general collective amnesia perpetuates a state of eternal presentness—understanding the channels through which history moves and is shaped by architecture is more important than ever.” The selection at this Biennial promotes and showcases the work of a generation of architects from all over the world, inspiring reflection about the renewed interests in ‘precedents’ in architecture.
Two group exhibitions are on show at the Chicago Cultural Centre. A Vertical City in the Yates Hall in which 15 firms present ‘late entries’ to the historic competition held in 1920 for the design of the Chicago Tribune headquarters, which was subsequently designed by Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells in 1925. The proposals by 6A Architects, Barbas Lopes, Christ & Gantenbein, Ensamble Studio, Eric Lapierre, Barozzi Veiga, Go Hasegawa, Kéré Architecture, Kuehn Malvezzi, MOS, OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, PRODUCTORA, Sam Jacob Studio, Sergison Bates, Serie Architects and Tatiana Bilbao consist of giant, almost 5-meter-high models of skyscrapers, which stand alongside two models of the 1922 designs for the competition by Adolf Loos and Ludwig Hilbersheimer.
In opposition to this vertical city, the GAR Hall contains the Horizontal City by the second group, featuring creations by Karamuk * Kuo Architects, Urban Lab, MAIO, First Office, Sauter von Moos, fala atelier, DRDH Architects, Besler & Sons LLC, Norman Kelley, Andrew Kovacs, REAL Foundation, Formlessfinder, The Los Angeles Design Group, Diego Arraigada Arquitectos, Lütjens Padmanabhan Architekten, WELCOMEPROJECTS, June14 Meyer-Grohbrügge & Chermayeff, The Living, Adamo-Faiden, Thomas Baeker Bettina Kraus, Angela Deuber Architect, Tham & Videgård Arkitekter, Charlap Hyman & Herrero and BUREAU SPECTACULAR. The models produced by these 24 firms reproduce and reinterpret, in miniature, the interiors of the most iconic buildings in the history of international architecture.
The history of the city is the theme of the Biennial, which extends beyond Downtown with further exhibitions and events in six different cultural institutions, which become the “community anchors” of an initiative that aims to involve the whole city: The Beverly Arts Center, DePaul Art Museum, DuSable Museum of African American History, Hyde Park Art Center, the National Museum of Mexican Art and the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. Presenting installations, performances, meetings, conferences, films and special projects, this year over 100 cultural partners are participating in this packed, well-organized program.