Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects: Commissioners of the U.S. Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018 in Venice Share Exhibition Details at Send-Off Event

CHICAGO, April 11, 2018—Commissioner Mark Kelly, of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, joined School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) President Elissa Tenny and University of Chicago (UChicago) President Robert J. Zimmer at a sendoff Tuesday for the U.S. Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018, also known as the Venice Architecture Biennale.

“Architecture defines a city, and Chicago has long been at the center of the universe of architecture, design, and innovation,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “We are honored that two of our leading institutions—SAIC and the University of Chicago—will help to share our legacy of architectural ingenuity with the world at the Venice Architecture Biennale.”

As commissioners of the U.S. Pavilion, SAIC and UChicago were selected by the U.S. State Department to present the exhibition “Dimensions of Citizenship,” which grapples with the meaning of citizenship in the built environment. Through this exhibition, the provocative thinking of some of America’s foremost architects, designers, artists, and educators will be brought into the global conversation alongside other national pavilions and related programming of the Venice Architecture Biennale, a nearly 40-year-old international showcase for innovation and scholarship in the field.

The curators of the exhibition are Niall Atkinson, associate professor of architectural history at UChicago; Ann Lui, assistant professor at SAIC and co-founder of the architecture office Future Firm; and Mimi Zeiger, an independent critic, editor, curator, and educator based in Los Angeles, along with associate curator Iker Gil, lecturer at SAIC.

“On the heels of Chicago’s own Architecture Biennial, enforcing Chicago’s reputation as the vanguard of architectural, art, and design innovation, it’s fitting that two of the city’s pioneering institutions of higher education were selected to commission the U.S. presence at the International Architecture Exhibition,” said Commissioner Kelly.

The seven architecture practices commissioned to create new work for the exhibition include:

  • Amanda Williams + Andres L. Hernandez, in collaboration with Shani Crowe (Chicago, IL)
  • Design Earth (Cambridge, MA)
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, Robert Gerard Pietrusko with Columbia Center for Spatial Research (New York, NY)
  • Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman (San Diego, CA)
  • Keller Easterling with MANY (New Haven, CT)
  • SCAPE (New York, NY)
  • Studio Gang (Chicago, IL)

Central to the exhibition are the contemporary challenges around the notion of citizenship. During the sendoff, participants Amanda Williams, Andres Hernandez, Shani Crowe, Jeanne Gang, Mimi Zeiger, and Ann Lui discussed the vision of the exhibition with moderator Yesomi Umolu, recently appointed artistic director for the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Commissioner Kelly, SAIC President Tenny and UChicago President Zimmer also discussed the role of architecture in shaping Chicago’s past and future including the importance of art and architecture in shaping ideas about community.

“At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, we recognize the responsibility artists and designers have to pursue urgent questions and generate new ideas that underscore our common humanity, both at home in Chicago and around the globe through international fora like the Bienniale Architettura,” said SAIC President Tenny.

“This exhibition will present the American architectural imagination at its best, in keeping with the commitment of the arts at the University of Chicago to experimental scholarship with global impact and engagement with distinctive architecture,” said UChicago President Zimmer. “The Venice Biennale provides an opportunity to collaborate with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on an exhibition that dramatizes how architectural imagination connects to the question of citizenship, a question of urgency around the globe.”

The event culminated in a celebratory sendoff for U.S. Pavilion participants who depart in April to begin installations overseas. The 16th International Architecture Exhibition will be on view in Venice from May 26 through November 25, 2018.

Additional details about "Dimensions of Citizenship" are available at:


School of the Art Institute of Chicago
For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons, and LeRoy Neiman.

The University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a leading academic and research institution that has driven new ways of thinking since its founding in 1890. As an intellectual destination, the University draws scholars and students from around the world to its home in Hyde Park and campuses around the globe. The University provides a distinctive educational experience, empowering individuals to challenge conventional thinking and pursue research that produces new understanding and breakthroughs with global impact. At the University, UChicago Arts, which includes nearly 100 arts organizations, initiatives, and academic programs, brings together the efforts of students, faculty, artists, and community partners to infuse creativity throughout the intellectual life on campus while solidifying the University’s role as a cultural destination and resource on Chicago’s South Side.

About the U.S. Pavilion
The U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale was built in 1930 and designed by architects William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation acquired the U.S. Pavilion in 1986 and now manages it through the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, with the support of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the U.S. Department of State.

About the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
The U.S. Pavilion is funded in part by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), which builds relations between people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchange programs, as well as public-private partnerships.

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