The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial opened in October and will continue through January of next year. The expectations for this event were high, though there was a good deal of uncertainty as to what it would look like, and how it might appeal to a wider audience than architects and urban planners. I visited the hub of exhibits and lectures for the biennial, the Cultural Center, and was pleased to see it well attended by a diverse audience.
Every floor featured a number of exhibits dealing with different aspects of our constructed environment. There were models and renderings from international firms solving problems, some of which had been realized, and there were also more abstract representations of architecture. Sou Fujimoto Architects created an installation of dozens of small sculptures on pedestals that, paired with small figures, became found architecture. The playfulness and humor made the work fun to explore. Some of my favorite work was that of Professor Amanda Williams. Her photographs struck me; from the CAB website: “her work centers on color, race, and space… she uses vivid, culturally derived colors to paint abandoned houses on Chicago’s South Side, marking the pervasiveness of undervalued Black space.”
Even after wandering through the building for several hours, I feel like I barely scratched the surface of everything on display. Another trip will definitely be necessary.