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Chicago Architecture Biennial announces 2017 artistic directors

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Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of JohnstonMarklee have been named the artistic directors of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. (Photo by Eric Staudenmaier Courtesy Chicago Architecture Biennial)
Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of JohnstonMarklee have been named the artistic directors of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. (Photo by Eric Staudenmaier Courtesy Chicago Architecture Biennial)

Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of the Los Angeles–based firm JohnstonMarklee have been announced as the artistic directors of the second Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB). Along with this new leadership, announcements were made about a theme, returning sponsors SC Johnson and BP, as well as dates and location for the event.

The second iteration of the first and largest architectural biennial in North America will be entitled Make New History. The biennial will focus on two central themes, “The axis between history and modernity and the axis between architecture and art.” The themes look to discuss the role that history has to play in the making of contemporary architecture, as well as the relationship of architecture to art. Chicago itself will act as a lens through which to raise and debate these issues.

The new artistic directors, Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, are founding partners of JohnstonMarklee. They have taught at universities including Princeton University, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the University of California, Los Angeles, the Technical University of Berlin, and ETH Zurich. They have also held the Cullinan Chair at Rice University and the Frank Gehry Chair at the University of Toronto. Their firm has been awarded over 300 major awards and has recently authored a book, entitled House Is a House Is a House Is a House Is a House, that was published by Birkhauser in 2016. JohnstonMarklee’s work has also been published and exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Menil Collection, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Architecture Museum of TU Munich.

The 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will be held at the historic Chicago Cultural Center from September 16th through December 31st, 2017. These dates align the opening of CAB with the sixth annual EXPO Chicago, the international Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, which will run from September 13th through September 17th, 2017.

“The Chicago Architecture Biennial’s return in 2017 confirms Chicago as an architectural hub,” remarked Mayor Emanuel in a press release. “Last year’s edition was a resounding success, and I’m pleased to see the great planning and support for the second Biennial, which will be even better. Not only is the Biennial’s return a testament to our city’s architectural significance, but it speaks to Chicago’s place as one of the world’s cultural destinations and our place in the world of architecture and design.”

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