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Through the Looking Glass

Phillip K. Smith III's 10 Columns of mirrored light forces total immersion
Artist Phillip K. Smith III’s site-specific commission 10 Columns is the inaugural show of Bridge Projects, a former roving art salon turned Los Angeles gallery. Located next to a public storage facility near a burgeoning series of art galleries in Hollywood, Bridge Projects has amplified the intensity of the exhibition by keeping its front windows and doors completely opaque. When the viewer steps inside, the glare of California sunshine briefly illuminates what appears to be an otherwise pitch-black room. Once the door swings shut and one’s eyes adjust to the 7,000 square feet of darkness, the glow of 30 rectangular mirrored surfaces mounted on a series of 10 columns become visible. The slowly shifting colors of the artist’s signature dynamic light program combined with their perpendicular mounting calls to mind not only a desert landscape but a Blade Runner-type dystopia, as well as the joy and terror of our ever-shifting present. The illuminating surfaces are mounted at a height of 42-inch each and arranged into three groupings of 10 with three lengths of 16, 26, and 36 inches. The sheer size of the space, together with the surrounding darkness, creates an outsized feeling of immersion and contemplation. Even when seen with a group of people, it becomes easy to wander out to the far edges of the exhibition like a lone desert traveler. There is no specific beginning or endpoint and the longer one stands in the eerie glow, the easier it becomes to feel unmoored. The lack of signage and explicit directionality makes every viewpoint as valid as the other. Is one witnessing a sunrise or a sunset, a cultural awakening or a catastrophic meltdown? Ultimately, in this constantly changing landscape, the simple act of witnessing becomes its own reward. 10 Columns is on view through February 16, 2020.
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Radical Recollection

Friedman Benda recaps Gaetano Pesce's defining moment
A revelatory presentation of the experimental designer Gaetano Pesce is on view at Friedman Benda through December 14. Age of Contaminations is a carefully selected historical sweep provides a close reading of the idiosyncratic designer’s practice over 27 crucial years of the Italian architect's career, beginning with the asymmetrical, modular Yeti Armchairs (1968) and concluding with the otherworldly Ghost Lamps (1995), where recycled paper and polyurethane has been molded into a vaguely figural silhouette. Referencing an early peak of Pesce’s career, the title Age of Contaminations is borrowed from the artist’s installation in The Museum of Modern Art’s historic 1972 exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, where the designer conceived works for a post-apocalyptic future where humans have settled into subterranean cities to escape an unidentified fallout on the surface. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated e-catalog available for free on the gallery’s website, wherein leading authority on craft and design history Glenn Adamson provides a chronological survey and impassioned critique of Pesce’s career. Perhaps the most interesting designs on view are the least aesthetically pleasing: Dacron-filled fiberglass cloth chairsGolgotha (1972)—resemble the functional version of a Piero Manzoni painting, and the garish, slick palette of his Golgotha Table (1972) provides a visually grating yet conceptually transcendent testament to Pesce’s Roman Catholic upbringing. The designer’s relentless openness to experimentation and earnest resistance to a consistent style is manifest in one of the more striking works in the exhibition is the monumental Moloch Lamp (1971), deftly placed behind one of the gallery space’s pillars, allowing it to make an even more powerful impact once visitors are confronted with it in closer proximity. Pesce’s most famous design, the Up5 (Donna) chair and Up6 footstool make a requisite appearance just beneath the lamp’s intense metallic glow. The chair, which resembles the breasts or buttocks of the female body, is tethered to its spherical footstool, mimicking a prisoner’s ball and chain. A recent demonstration by the feminist group Non Una Di Meno (Not One Less) during Milan design week expressed explicit opposition to the design, yet Pesce insists that the work was intended to emphasize the restrictions of femininity in order to spur debate, rather than uphold traditional values pertaining to gender. Read the full show recap on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Redlining

The many lives of Detroit’s Berlin Wall
In 1941, the city of Detroit finished construction on a six-foot-tall, half-mile-long wall near 8 Mile Road that would keep an African American neighborhood physically segregated from an adjacent white neighborhood to “preserve property values.” This was redlining in concrete form. Almost 80 years later, “Detroit’s Berlin Wall” still stands, but when the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles asked SHAN Wallace to photograph the area for its exhibition W|ALLS: DEFEND, DIVIDE, AND THE DIVINEˆ, she discovered that the structure had taken on unexpected meanings in the interim. For elderly residents in their 90s, the wall remained an ugly embodiment of the housing loan practices of the 20th century. For those in their 50s, the wall represented a demarcation between “the cool black kids” who lived on one side and the “not so cool black kids” who dwelled on the other. “The wall was like a right of passage,” Wallace explained, relating what residents had told her about their experiences. “If you could walk the wall, you were cool, you could go meet your friend on the other side.” For children growing up in the neighborhood today, the wall has become a place to meet, a pragmatic landmark best known for its murals and proximity to a grassy park. “It was interesting to see how these different manifestations and interactions with the wall happened based on generations,” said Wallace. The Annenberg exhibition, which runs through December 2019, explores the history and varied meanings of walls throughout the world, including Hadrian’s Wall, The Great Wall of China, and the current best-known incarnation of intolerance, the U.S./Mexico border wall. Yet Wallace’s accompanying video and still photographs of the Detroit Wall, and those who live with it, are perhaps one of the most affecting surprises within the show. On an intimate level, her work demonstrates that barriers, no matter how indomitable they seem, can never contain the scope of human imagination.
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ConsenSys Census

Neiheiser Argyros inserts a central link in a global blockchain office
Generally speaking, no two people work the same way. Given that, global blockchain solutions company ConcenSys consensually chose an open, flexible working environment for its new London headquarters. Tasked with its refurbishment, local firm Neiheiser Argyros, creating a unique office identity and spaces for a range of different working styles. Taking form in the shell of a five-story office building, a number of workspaces and meeting rooms orbit around a central area swathed in plywood. While the office provides flexibility, partners Xristina Argyros and Ryan Neiheiser were skeptical of a floor plan that was too open-ended. Weary of seemingly endless rows of open desking, they opted instead for specific environments differentiated without partitions. On each floor, a central meeting space, or, if you will, "object," contains a kitchen, cluster of meeting rooms, and phone booths. This neutral space acts as a transition between a variety of distinct spaces, an arm that subdivides micro working environs that can be passed through without going having to open a door. Surrounding the central "objects" are an assemblage of working environments, each unique with their own material palette. Separated by theoretical boundaries, each space metaphorically alludes to a location that has an established identity for how work should be carried out—be that a study fo individual contemplation or group space to gather. In what Neiheiser Argyros call "The Laboratory," light grey flooring, white furniture, and sanitized fluorescent lights prescribe a quiet space for uninterrupted work. Meanwhile,  "The Library" is outfitted with cork flooring and dark wood furniture, alluding to a medieval study that fosters personal reflection. Then, in "The Living Room" bright orange carpeting and custom built-in soft furnishings invite informal working and casual conversation. Read the full profile on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Obligatory Akira Reference

The Japan Society bridges Olympic games past and future at Made in Tokyo
Fifty years of change can totally transform any city and nowhere is that more evident than Tokyo, a mega-metropolis that’s constantly redefining itself. Made in Tokyo: Architecture and Living, 1964/2020 at the Japan Society in Manhattan makes the comparison between where Tokyo has been and where it’s going stark, easy to understand, and perhaps, hopeful. With the 2020 Summer Olympics fast approaching, Made in Tokyo—curated by Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow-Wow with Japan Society gallery director Yukie Kamiya—presents the Tokyo of 1964 and 2020 side-by-side to examine how the city has evolved and where it could go in the future. Historical changes in Tokyo’s architecture are inextricably linked with its political, economic, and social fortunes and the exhibition uses the 1964-through-2020 timeline to tease out the way these factors have shaped the city. Tokyo is rife for densification and because of that, new typologies make the most use of vertical space. At an October 11th talk at the Japan Society, Kaijima and Tsukamoto pointed to a driving school on top of a grocery store as just one way the city fosters the combination of disparate ideas. Made in Tokyo spotlights the city’s versatility and how the past and forthcoming Olympic games have and will affect six public and private architectural categories: stadium, station, retail, capsule, office, and home. The Japan Society and Atelier Bow-Wow have assembled an impressive collection of materials drawn from public and private archives, as well as from over 30 architectural studios. That includes two central, stadium-shaped enclosures featuring materials from the 1964 and 2020 games assembled around each for easy wayfinding; a life-sized segment from a capsule hotel, helpful for providing scale to those who have never been to one; archival drawings; photographs and architectural models by Kenzo Tange and Kengo Kuma; video fly-throughs; and a virtual tour of exemplary Tokyo projects lead by Atelier Bow-Wow. “In the 1960s—15 years after the end of World War II, Japan grew with great productivity and enthusiasm,” said Atelier Bow-Wow in a press release, “various urban institutions were created and young architects were allowed to creatively contribute to diverse architectural designs. Now, in contrast to those times, there is an incentive for large capital and organization towards mass-redevelopment. Through this tremendous turnover of city spaces and transitions of urban institutions we will showcase the evolution of life in the city of Tokyo.” Made in Tokyo will run through January 26, 2020, and will be accompanied by a host of lectures, film screenings, discussions, and art performances.
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OSX Glasgow

A Charles Rennie Mackintosh show charts the evolution of the Glasgow Style
Scotland’s most important architect and designer was Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928). In Nikolaus Pevsner's 1936 book Pioneers of the Modern Movement, he called Mackintosh “the European counterpart of Frank Lloyd Wright” and a forerunner of Le Corbusier. Like Wright, Mackintosh designed not only buildings but also their furnishings and fixtures. A new exhibition, Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style, marks the 150th anniversary of his birth has just opened at Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum. It’s the largest show about the Glasgow Style, one that grew from Mackintosh and his contemporaries at the Glasgow School from the 1890s to 1914, that has ever come to the United States. Many of the 165 objects have never been seen here before. The exhibit draws on the Glasgow Museums collection, with loans from other institutions and private collections. The exhibit’s purpose is to "put Mackintosh in context," said curator Alison Brown of the Glasgow Museums. The Glasgow Style was not just Mackintosh “but a big body of people,” she emphasized, including many other architects and designers. Prominent among them were his friend James MacNair, MacNair’s wife Margaret Macdonald, and Macdonald’s sister, Frances, who was Mackintosh’s wife. Glasgow is “the only city in Britain that created its own version of Art Nouveau,” Brown said. The Glasgow Style was a rejection of historical styles. The bold and distinctive forms were “controversial at the time,” pointed out Brown. She noted that one of the Glasgow Museums’ tour guides often compares the Glasgow Style to the punk rock movement, seeing them as equally radical. The exhibition's designers wanted to give viewers a better sense of the buildings referenced in the show. To that end, Designing the New has several videos of the style's buildings, including exterior details filmed by drones. One of the most detailed videos explores the inside and out of the 1897 Queen’s Cross Church in Glasgow, the only church Mackintosh designed. Another video highlights several buildings completed by Mackintosh’s contemporaries James Salmon Jr. and John Gaff Gillespie, who designed many Glasgow banks. While wall labels are important, visitors often skip them. To make the installation meaningful even for visitors who quickly pass through, Brown says the curators and designers chose and located objects “to make visual connections,” to highlight the relationships between them and the evolution of the Glasgow Style. The show delves into influences on Mackintosh’s early career, including a major cultural exchange between Glasgow and Japan in 1878 that brought Japanese art to the city, and his trip to Italy in 1891. Another influence on the evolution of the Glasgow Style was traditional Celtic culture, which was enjoying a revival during Mackintosh's lifetime. Later in his career, Mackintosh visited Vienna and was influenced by the Vienna Secession. The square motifs often used in Vienna Secession designs began to appear in his furniture, and Machintosh's work also become more streamlined and “more intense,” said Brown. Some of his work prefigures the Art Deco movement. Countless people with no interest in architecture and design have been exposed to Mackintosh—Brown said his work seems to fascinate film and TV designers. Two high-backed chairs in Designing the New have been reproduced many times. A chair he created for the Argyle Street Tea Room (1898) appeared in films such as Blade Runner, The Addams Family, Doctor Who” and Madonna’s video for the song “Express Yourself.” A chair he designed for Hill House (1905) was in the film American Psycho and an episode of the TV show Babylon 5. Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style runs at the Walters through January 5, 2020. It will be at the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, June 26 to September 27, 2020; the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, St. Petersburg, Florida, October 29, 2020, to January 24, 2021; and the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago, February 27 to May 23, 2021. The exhibit is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Glasgow Museums. In Baltimore, the Glasgow exhibit is accompanied by From Mucha to Morris: Books of the Art Nouveau, which features 12 books designed by William Morris, Alphonse Mucha, Aubrey Beardsley, and others, drawn from the Walters’ collection.
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Rational Rioplatense

Argentine designers bring geometric shapes and brazen colors to the Casa FOA interiors exhibition
In a rich juxtaposition of material and color, a sea of peachy pink and teal green is peppered on marble tabletops, velvet seat cushions, a hand-tufted wall tapestry, and other furnishings and finishings in this art moderne inspired interior. ART HAUS—an installation at the 36th edition of Bueno Aires's premier interior design exhibition Casa FOA—is the lucid Rioplatense rationalist dream conjured by a local trio: interdisciplinary studio Arenal Estudio, color specialist Marina Christe, and furniture purveyor La Feliz. Taking cues from the subconscious of Argentina's post-war reaction to European avant-garde (an era from which European stylistic tropes traveled with those seeking refuge between both World Wars), ART HAUS features a distinct art moderne inspired flavor. Referencing the aforementioned historic style, the overall aesthetic emphasizes the horizontal. Namely, the metal screening framed by an arrow-like cutout seemingly gestures itself along the wall towards the "La Feliz" neon light. This articulation of movement pushes itself further into the space with a pronounced geometry found in the exuberantly shaped furniture, the graphic patterned wall tapestry, and the symmetrical painted shapes on the walls and floors. Meanwhile, the robust palette of colors handpicked by Marina Christe was were meticulously paired all the materials and finishes to accentuate the objets d'art, built-in furniture, and the La Feliz furniture. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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LOOP DE LOOP

London’s Universal unveils new NYC office with an interactive installation
On the heels of opening their first U.S. office in Manhattan, London’s Universal (formerly Universal Design Studio) unveiled a performance-based installation at A/D/O/ by Mini in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The participatory On Loop underpins the firm’s research and development-driven methodology, a process of collaborative experimentation to design unique spaces that interact with their users. In a sort of "formal-exercise-slash-performance-piece" hybrid, the installation underscores this ethos with a set up that asks visitors to experiment and co-create.  On view through the duration of this year's Archtober, On Loop highlights the design process with an unassuming setup. Fashioned from inexpensive materials—plywood, plexiglass, and masking tape—a half-painted loop and semicircular shelf circumscribe a round table and stools. Inspired by the Surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, where a drawing is arbitrarily finished by multiple artists, visitors are encouraged to participate in an on-going evolution of infinite accidental outcomes. In this context, masking tape is randomly placed on a plexiglass square on a spinning tabletop slide carrousel-like display. Over the 31 days On Loop remains on display, the “finished” works by individuals will contribute to a collective display on the installation’s surrounding shelf.  Universal will continue to activate its New York presence with a series of workshops co-led by local artists, designers, and makers. With the same premise as On Loop, the programming will ask visitors to participate in a similar Exquisite Corpse-like performance in different mediums. Including a clay, sound, drawing, writing, motion graphics, and food, the curious selection of medium-focused workshops can be found on the dedicated A/D/O/ Eventbrite page At their new location in the Manhattan wing of design agency AKQA, Universal will focus on continuing to collaborate with local architects, designers, and artists on various projects. When asked, they took particular interest in the hospitality typology—citing previous projects like the London Ace Hotel and Stockholm’s At Six Hotel. The design duo will operate on a bi-continental basis; codirectors Jason Holley and Paul Gulati will continue to work with founders Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby in London and at AKQA in New York.
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Top Prizes

ArtPrize brings an inaugural biennial to Grand Rapids
“What does it mean to belong?” is the question posed by the inaugural biennial Project 1: Crossed Lines by ArtPrize taking place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The public art exhibition aims to spark dialogue around questions of access and boundaries through a showcase of public events, sculptures, art installations, and urban interventions. By asking five artists to engage with the community, temporarily alter public space, or create new space, the work exhibited also begs the question: How and for who is the city made? The five artists selected for this year’s iteration include Amanda Browder, Heather Hart, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Olalekan Jeyifous, and Paul Amenta & Ted Lott. Each produced a piece evaluating how lines are drawn and how public and private space is determined—a theme inspired by Grand Rapids’ legacy of public art “defining and enhancing civic space” as outlined in Project 1’s mission. The Boom and the Bust is one such project that references the challenges of housing discrimination and urban inequality, past, and present. The monumental sculpture was created by Olalekan Jeyifous, a Nigerian born, Brooklyn-based artist and architect whose work spans installation, large scale murals, drawing, and sculpture. The 25-foot-tall sculpture resembles an abstracted high-rise building with various styles and sizes of windows. In the center lies a cage-like structure constructed of metal beams. Inside are a collection of small red house-shaped forms. In an interview with ArtPrize, the artist said, “Public art appeals to me because it’s high visibility for the artwork. It allows me to center the art first and put it in front of a larger public audience who may not have access to or even know about gallery openings.” Another highlight from the exhibition is the Oracle of the Soulmates by Brooklyn-based sculptor and performance artist, Heather Hart. Hart’s work often looks at how rooftops serve as thresholds between public and private space. She engages her viewers and activates the installations through oral histories and performances, thus transforming the everyday image of the roof into a stage in which urban space can be reclaimed and personal narratives shared.  Two of Hart’s submerged rooftops can be found in Grand Rapids during the exhibition. One is located in the center of Rosa Parks Circle downtown and the other on the lawn of MLK Park. Visitors are invited to climb on the sculpture, go in the attic, and attend one of many performances staged there throughout the biennial.  Hart is not the only artist in the show engaging the intersections of architecture and performance. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer does just that in his site-specific installation, Voice Bridge, which takes place along the handrails of Grand Rapids’ Blue Bridge, a pedestrian walkway that connects the east and west sides of downtown. The bridge is adorned in 400 lights controlled by the user’s voices. Participants are asked to speak into the intercoms at the end of the bridge and their recorded messages then playback as a loop across the span of the structure.  Now in its 10th year, ArtPrize is one of the world’s largest art competitions, distributing $500,000 in cash prizes by public vote and jury. Rosalynn Bliss, Mayor of Grand Rapids said in a press release, “For the last decade, ArtPrize has infused the City of Grand Rapids with unparalleled energy... this next evolution of the event will generate new ways for us all to be inspired and challenged, to come together as a community and deepen our connection.”  This year’s programming will run until October 27th. The biennial schedule for years to come is as follows: 2019 — Project 1 2020 — ArtPrize, Sept. 16-Oct. 4 2021 — Project 2 2022 — ArtPrize, Sept. 21-Oct. 9 2023 — Project 3 2024 — ArtPrize, Sept. 17-Oct. 5
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Third Time's the Charm

Third exhibition of the Cruising Pavilion goes institutional in Stockholm

This weekend, the third and final exhibition of Cruising Pavilion: Architecture, Gay Sex and Cruising Culture opened at ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design in Stockholm. The first two exhibitions took place in Venice, Italy (Spazio Punch) and New York City (Ludlow38), examining the emergence and evolution of cruising practices over time. The third iteration centers on the relationship between the architecture of urban spaces and sexuality.

Cruising is defined as the practice by which homosexual men search for sexual experiences and partners in a public space. Traditionally, cruising takes place in quintessentially urban spaces—city parks, public bathrooms, bathhouses, gyms, car parks, sex clubs, and other designated gathering points. More recently, however, the growing popularity of hook-up apps like Grindr, as well as increased pressure from large-scale property development in many cities, have prompted various adaptations among members of the LGBTQ+ community. The curators of the Cruising Pavilion at ArkDes—Pierre-Alexandre Mateos, Rasmus Myrup, Octave Perrault, Charles Teyssou, and James Taylor-Foster—sought to explore these tensions through the work of architects, designers, and artists from around the world.

In a critical acknowledgment of the diversity among those who have historically engaged in cruising, the installation in Stockholm explores it as a pursuit undertaken by groups other than cis-gendered gay men. According to ArkDes, “The exhibition presents cruising as the producer of a non-hetero architecture that closely mirrors the patriarchal nature of the built environment. Cruising is at once revealed as a resistance, and avant-garde and a vernacular, with an active relevance in and beyond LGBTQ+ circles.”

For the display in Stockholm, organizers have incorporated work from a wide variety of designers and firms, including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Andrés Jaque's Office for Political Innovation, and S H U I (Jon Wang + Sean Roland). The exhibition is housed in Boxen, a studio gallery for experimental shows that opened at ArkDes in 2018. The Cruising Pavilion will be on display at ArkDes through November 10, 2019.

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Stripping the Storefront

Storefront's Ministry for All breaks down Brasilia's socio-political infrastructure
Brasilia, the midcentury planning marvel designed by Oscar Niemeyer along Lucio Costa's master plan, boasts monumental civic structures that have long provided a sense of stoicism as the face of Brazil's capital. But what goes on inside those government buildings—like many others around the world—changes from one administration to another, influencing the near future of a country seemingly in constant unrest.  Since Brasilia’s buildings can’t be stripped apart to reveal their inner workings, architect Carla Juaçaba and artist Marcelo Cidade will expose the physical infrastructure of the Storefront for Art and Architecture as a commentary on the social and political foundations of the built environment. This site-specific exhibition, Ministry for All, breaks down Niemeyer’s utopian vision for Brasilia by removing the concrete panels of the SoHo space’s iconic facade and bringing them inside. 
 
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Opening this Saturday, September 21, the showcase won’t look like a typical, polished art installation at Storefront. Instead, construction materials such as insulation foam and plywood boards will line the exterior, while the concrete panels will be rearranged to make new forms within the gallery’s interior. According to Juaçaba and Cidade, “this layered installation extrudes the facade inward and allows visitors to walk through it, providing a different reading of its panels now that they are no longer forming their intended function.”  Juaçaba and Cidade’s interventions will serve as a reminder that spaces are often used differently than they were intended for when originally built, solely because their users vary widely and change over time. It’s both a conceptual and poetic critique, according to the curators, on the resilience of architecture and will force the viewer to think deeper on how societies around the world can ultimately build systems that do work for all.  Ministry for All will be on view through December 14 and is the second exhibition in Storefront’s year-long program, Building Cycles, which explores the differences between building as a place and as a process. 
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Story Time

A first look inside the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial
Now in its third iteration, the Chicago Architecture Biennial will open to the general public on Thursday, September 19. The show's main venue, the Chicago Cultural Center, has once again been filled with large installations, multimedia displays, and extensive texts. What you will not see, diverging from the last two installments, are the extensive architectural models, renderings, and full-scale mock-ups. This year's show, curated by Yesomi Umolu, Sepake Angiama, and Paulo Tavares has a distinctly different feel than most architectural shows. Entitled "...and Other Such Stories," the curatorial team opted for research-heavy content focusing on social justice, equality, and civic activism. Most of the 80+ contributors come from urban studies and activism fields, with only a handful calling themselves architects. The exhibition will be on show from September 19th through January 5th at the Chicago Cultural Center and a number of other sites around the city.