Learn about the past, present and future of architecture at this sprawling celebration that cements Chicago’s stature as a powerhouse of glass and steel
Frank Llyod Wright, Louis Sullivan and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe—among America’s first starchitects—each left his mark on Chicago, undergirding the city’s claim as the birthplace of modern architecture. From Wright’s horizontal Prairie houses in suburban Oak Park to van der Rohe’s glass-and-steel skyscrapers in the Loop, the city, essentially a blank canvas after the Great Fire of 1871, remains a living museum of 20th-century building styles.
So it’s certainly fitting, if not overdue, that Chicago just inaugurated its own architecture biennial, the first such event in North America and a complement to long-established biennials in Venice, São Paulo and Shenzhen/Hong Kong. Through Jan. 3, the biennial is exploring the work of architects from more than 30 countries on six continents through exhibitions, tours, talks, workshops, performances and film. “For over 100 years, Chicago has been a site of experimentation, a laboratory of new ideas of city-making that have influenced the world,” said Sarah Herda, director of the city’s Graham Foundation, which offers architecture-related grants to promote innovation and is a co-presenter, with the city, of the biennial.
The three-month event’s core exhibition, “The State of the Art of Architecture,” spreads across seven sites, including the Chicago Cultural Center in the Loop, the Graham Foundation’s own 1901 Prairie-influenced Madlener House in the upscale Gold Coast neighborhood, and Millennium Park, site of Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion and Anish Kapur’s “Cloud Gate” (aka “the Bean”). […]