The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial is an opportunity for SAIC to show its design side.
In 1893 Chicago became a global center of culture and architecture as the site of the World’s Columbian Exposition. This fall the city will host another international, culture-defining event—the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, the only architectural biennial in North America. From October 3, 2015 to January 3, 2016, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) community will engage with peers and practitioners to examine and celebrate architecture and urban development through global collaboration and dialogue.
One collaboration with the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago pairs three world-renowned architects with students from local architecture programs at SAIC, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The architects and students are designing three distinct vendor kiosks that will permanently stand on the Lake Michigan shoreline. SAIC has teamed up with Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi, who joined the school as a visiting faculty member in summer 2015. Adeyemi is a leading researcher of the growth of urban communities in developing countries and owner of urban design firm NLÉ in Amsterdam. He will lecture as part of SAIC's Visiting Artists Program on October 5.
SAIC will also partner with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York to hold a two-part architecture and design symposium during the biennial. Titled “Local Anxieties: Relocating Architecture in a Global Public Space,” the symposium is co-organized by Mechtild Widrich (SAIC Professor of Art History, Theory, and Criticism) and Martino Stierli (MoMA Chief Curator of Architecture and Design) and presented by their departments.
The first part of the symposium, “Death and the Afterlife of the Post-Industrial City,” will take place on September 30, 2015 at SAIC. The panelists—researchers and practitioners in modernism, urbanism and race theory, and historic preservation—aim to inspire research concerning historical representation, globalization, institutional influence, social interaction, and the responsibility those in the field have to improve contemporary urban realities. Widrich says, “I hope that the discourse will contextualize and redefine urban centers and their architecture in a post-industrial, hybridized era.”
SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries will host a concurrent exhibition with the Chicago Architecture Biennial curated by Jonathan Solomon, Director of SAIC’s Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) and member of the Host Committee of the inaugural biennial. The Outside Design exhibition will run through the fall semester, examining “disciplinarity in art and design” through research, experimentation, and interactive workshops.
Five design practices will be brought into the space throughout the semester, transforming the gallery into an evolving laboratory. Solomon says, “Where most gallery shows are static presentations of completed work, and most design shows are static presentations of representations of completed work, Outside Design will be an active and living space in which work and knowledge are being produced through ongoing design experiments.”
The Chicago Architecture Biennial will establish a major milestone for both the city and SAIC. It will connect Chicago to emerging global networks of design-related ideas and practices; and it will deepen SAIC’s mark on a city it has called home for 150 years, while furthering its identity as a school of design. Solomon says, “This is a very important moment for a school that has determined that it wants design, in addition to fine arts, to be a part of its DNA.”