For the Chicago Architecture Biennial opening on September 19, SOM debuted a concrete pavilion called Stereoform Slab to showcase the latest in material and manufacturing technology. As much as 60 percent of a building’s carbon footprint can result from the creation of concrete slabs, according to SOM. By developing new fabrication methods and integrating robotic construction, the firm reported that a 20 percent reduction in material use and waste equaled an equal reduction in carbon output. The fluid form of Stereoform Slab, designed as a full-scale abstraction of the single-story concrete bays you might find in a high-rise, was built in partnership with McHugh Construction, the developer Sterling Bay, Denmark-based Odico Construction Robotics, and Autodesk. Using robots, Odico fabricated EPS foam molds which were shipped from Odense, Denmark, to the U.S. “The shape is formed of a specific, but simple class of geometry—the ruled surface,” the interdisciplinary research team behind the project at SOM said in an email. “This formal constraint is derived from the nature of the fabrication method itself, a hot-wire spanning an eight feet width at the end of a seven-axis robotic arm.” While one might have seen this "constraint" as just that, a restriction, the designers said they saw it as a way of offering “geometric freedom,” and also enjoyed the high fabrication speed. While new technology has allowed for designers to conceive of “more sustainable and expressive structures,” the resulting complexity often makes them hard to realize with conventional construction techniques. “The impetus for Stereoform Slab, however, was to prove that emerging approaches to fabrication using advanced robotics could help close this gap, and that this type of formwork could augment more conventional concrete forming systems without adding additional cost to construction,” the SOM team explained. Odico used a proprietary technology called robotic abrasive wire cutting, which allows for the rapid creation of polystyrene formworks—reportedly at up to 126 times the speed of traditional methods. “Because of this advantage, formworks can be produced at very low cost compared to conventional timber formwork molds," said Asbjørn Søndergaard, chief technology officer of Odico, "which is the critical enabler for realizing more advanced, structural designs that save material through more intelligent use of material." SOM isn’t doing away with the human hand entirely, and they said that “This type of advanced fabrication is about augmenting human labor in order to expand design freedom and the potential to actually build what we can imagine and create with more advanced digital design methodologies” Though certainly smaller than a tower, working closely with the robotic manufacturers and with a firm, McHugh Construction, that focuses on high rises means that the Stereoform Slab has more in common with a construction prototype than a pavilion. The Stereoform Slab will be up until January 5th, along with a bench produced by the same process at the Chicago Athletic Association.
Posts tagged with "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.
“syzygy noun syz·y·gy | \ ˈsi-zə-jē: the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system.” —Merriam-Webster It seems like somehow all the world’s design triennials and biennials have lined up to happen in the fall of 2019. September is especially packed with events for the global design cognoscenti, but the deluge will continue through the new year. Here is a breakdown of over 20 design-related celebrations from Chicago to Seoul to Uruguay. Exhibit Columbus August 24 to December 1 Columbus, IN Inspired by the 1986 Good Design in the Community: Columbus, Indiana National Building Museum exhibition, this year’s edition of Exhibit Columbus will rethink what good design means today. Eighteen projects will activate downtown Columbus, including installations from the 2018–19 Miller Prize recipients, SO – IL, MASS Design Group, and Frida Escobedo Studio, among others. Detroit Month of Design September 2019 Detroit The Detroit Design Festival is extending from a week to an entire month with programming from Design Core, the steward of Detroit’s 2018 UNESCO City of Design program. Emerging local studios, educational institutions, and major companies will showcase projects and events throughout the city as well as installations from the festival’s three main competitions. Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism September 7 to November 10, 2019 Seoul, South Korea Sponsored by the Seoul city government, this year’s biennial, themed “Collective City,” invites a global discussion on how architecture practices can help change the political paradigms of development and influence policy ideas. Along with directors Francisco Sanin and Lim Jaeyong, curator Beth Hughes will organize the main exhibition, which will showcase new models of collaboration, governing, and research. Estonia: Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB) September 11 to November 30, 2019 Tallinn, Estonia Focusing on the theme “Beauty Matters” TAB will look at new interests in aesthetics and how the concept of beauty is developing in architectural discourse and across cultures. Curated by Dr. Yael Resiner, the fifth edition of the biennial will feature nine exhibitors including Sou Fujimoto, Elena Manferdini, and Space Popular. Istanbul Biennial September 14 to November 10, 2019 Istanbul, Turkey Organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, the 15th edition of this citywide biennial will feature work from over 60 artists relating to the concept of the Anthropocene. Curated by French art scholar Nicolas Bourriaud, the exhibition will be held across three venues: the 600-year-old Istanbul Shipyard, the Pera Museum, and Buyukada Island. Participants will showcase pieces that detail the impact of human waste on other species and the environment. Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) September 19, 2019, to January 5, 2020 Chicago Now in its third cycle, CAB will be curated by Yesomi Umolu, Sepake Angiama, and Paulo Tavares under the theme “...and other such stories.” Through engaging the narratives of different cultures and their historical memories, the biennial will look at the importance of space, architecture, and nature in connection to the practices of building, designing, planning, policymaking, teaching, and activism. Oslo Architecture Triennale (OAT) September 26 to November 24, 2019 Oslo, Norway The seventh edition of the Nordic region’s biggest architecture festival will call attention to how architecture might respond to the current climate emergency and to social division in cities around the world. Titled “Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth,” this year’s OAT is curated by Maria Smith, Matthew Dalziel, Phineas Harper, and Cecilie Sachs Olsen, and will center on four concepts, or “institutions of growth”: the library, the theater, the playground, and the academy. Chile: Feria Libre de Arquitectura October 3 to 27, 2019 Santiago, Chile Having started in 1977, the Free Architecture Fair in Chile is one of the oldest biennials in the world, and this year, it will largely be held in Santiago. With a focus on “the common and the ordinary,” participants will try to answer questions regarding the role of architectural production for people who don’t live on the extreme edges of society. Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa October 3 to December 2, 2019 Lisbon, Portugal The fifth edition of the Lisbon Triennial will focus on the theme “The Poetics of Reason” and will be broken up into five exhibitions curated by various experts. Claiming that architecture “rests on reason,” the showcase will break down the ways in which architecture is shareable and can be understood by anyone. Lagos Biennial October 26 to November 30, 2019 Lagos Island Organized by the Àkéte Art Foundation, the second Lagos Biennial will ask: “How to Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine?” Curated by Antawan I. Byrd and Tosin Oshinowo, the event will challenge artists, designers, and the public to think about how the city of Lagos, with its 21 million residents, can continue to expand its built environment while responding to climate change, socioeconomic inequality, and international exchanges. Sharjah Architecture Triennial November 9, 2019, to February 8, 2020 Sharjah, United Arab Emirates Adrian Lahoud, dean of the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art, London, will curate the inaugural run of this triennial around the theme of the “Rights of Future Generations.” With major exhibitions held at the Al-Qasimiyah School and the Old Al Jubail Vegetable Market, participants will rethink the role of architecture and how it addresses climate change across the Global South. Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB) December 2019 to March 2020 Shenzhen, China The eighth edition of the UABB is co-hosted by Shenzhen and Hong Kong and is the only biennial dedicated to urban issues. This year’s theme, “Urban Interactions,” will be broken down into two sections, “Eyes of the City” and “Ascending City,” and will be chiefly curated by Carlo Ratti, Meng Jianmin, and Fabio Cavalluci. The main exhibition will be held at the Futian Railway Station and will explore how technological advances can shape urban spaces. Other Notable Events: Experimental Architecture Biennale June 14 to September 1, 2019 Prague, Czech Republic Vienna Biennale for Change June to October 2019 Vienna, Austria Ottawa Architecture Week September 30 to October 6, 2019 Ottawa, Canada London Design Festival September 14 to 22, 2019 London Brazil: XII Bienal Internacional de Arquitecta de São Paulo September 19 to December 19, 2019 São Paulo, Brazil Spain: Bienal de Arquitectura Latinoamericana September 24 to 27, 2019 Pamplona, Spain International Biennale of Architecture Kraków October 8 and 9, 2019 Kraków, Poland Biennale d’ Architecture d’ Orléans #2 – Years of Solitude October 11, 2019, to January 19, 2020 Orléans, France Argentina: XVII Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura de Buenos Aires October 15 to 26, 2019 Buenos Aires, Argentina Dutch Design Week October 19 to 27, 2019 Eindhoven, the Netherlands Paraguay: XI Bienal Iberoamericana de Arquitectura y Urbanismo October 2019 Asunción, Paraguay
This May, the Chicago Architecture Biennial announced this year’s participants for the upcoming ...and other such stories biennial. Architects, designers, and artists from all over the world will participate in projects that engage with land, memory, rights, and civic participation. “For this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial, the curatorial focus brings to light architectural stories that are often overshadowed by more familiar narratives,” said executive director Todd Palmer. “The Chicago contributors' works for 2019 draw from their ongoing engagement with local communities working towards a more equitable architectural landscape in this city.” Here is what we know so far about Chicago-based participants featured in the upcoming biennial: Artist and University of Chicago professor Theaster Gates will center his project around the vacant buildings he has purchased in Chicago and the complexities of land ownership. When Gates originally purchased the buildings, there was a severe lack of interest in those areas due to violence and disinvestment from the city. He plans to create found poetry from the legal land documents between himself, the banks, and the city—what he claims are the pieces that no one sees but are intrinsically personal to him. Gates said, “I want to talk about my love of space, and how a commitment to contracts will ultimately create new opportunities for emerging artists and affordable housing.” Artist Maria Gaspar will exhibit an interactive installation reflecting her artistic practice both inside and outside the Cook County Jail, located in her childhood neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. “It will be interesting for me to see how my own spatial research engages with the broader field of architecture and how borders impact communities,” said Gaspar. Artist Santiago X is partnering with the American Indian Center of Chicago and Chicago Public Art Group to produce a large-scale installation that will express a vision to construct indigenous future-scapes. “Participating in this year's Chicago Architecture Biennial is an incredible opportunity for me to contribute to the revitalization of indigenous landscapes throughout Chicago,” said the artist. Design practice Borderless Studio will examine social infrastructure in the context of unprecedented public-school closures in 2013. The studio’s Creative Grounds initiative offers a framework for how art, design, and architecture can create a more inclusive process for repurposing closed schools. Artists Iker Gil and the Luftwerk duo of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero will splash the Farnsworth House in lasers. The Chicago Architecture Biennial ...and other such stories will run from September 19, 2019, to January 5, 2020. Altogether, there will be more than 40 participating organizations and sites citywide. For the full list of contributors, see here.
All eyes will be on Plano, Illinois, the small town nearly 60 miles west of the city that’s home to the Miesian masterpiece Farnsworth House, for the upcoming Chicago Architecture Biennial. Artists Iker Gil and Luftwerk duo, Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, are teaming up to shed new light on the pioneering international style house, lining its underlying geometries with beams of neon laser light. The laser installation, Geometry of Light, will be open to the public from October 11th to 13th for an evening walk-through like no other. Fitted out for a tech- and social media-savvy audience, the neon-saturated installation is sure to bring attention to the Fox River site, as the home will become the next in a series of architectural icons to get the Luftwerk treatment. In 2011, the collective brought a prototype of Geometry of Light to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater for its 75th anniversary. That installation was named INsite, and the artists collaborated with video designer Liviu Pasare and composer Owen Clayton Condon to create an audiovisual study of the house. INsite focused on outlining the building's geometric components and the experience of moving through the lines of the space. An INsite-style study was also conducted independently for the Farnsworth house in 2014. However, the latest iteration of Luftwerk’s fluorescent vision debuted this past February as Geometry of Light was applied to another famous Mies project, the Barcelona Pavilion. Both the Pavilion and the Farnsworth House, with their open, overtly modernist massings, appear to be viewed through an x-ray after Luftwerk's illumination, exposing the bones of the building from a fresh new perspective. The 2019 Farnsworth exhibit will also be enhanced by sound, as a “minimalist” soundtrack will be pumped through the home in sync with the visuals. The installation is a notable part of a wave of recent publicity for the Farnsworth House, as effort mounts to attract attention towards its preservation. Situated on the Fox River floodplain, the property of the modernist monument has been inundated by water several times since 2013, and a debate has erupted amongst preservationists and the home’s current owner over whether to protect the house or to take more drastic measures: relocation. Even though the house sits on stilts, the swampy site presents structural dangers and the stilts may not prove high enough as the flooding is predicted to worsen. “Such are the choices in an era when disastrous '100-year floods' seem to occur every few years,” a spokesperson for The National Trust for Historic Preservation, who have owned and operated the structure since 2003, told the Chicago Tribune. The group even suggested the installation of hydraulic jacks programmed to physically elevate the base of the house when floodwaters rise. Though the Mies-designed home is about an hour-and-a-half drive from the Chicago Biennial's core, Luftwerk’s eye-catching installation is sure to saturate the social media airwaves come this fall.
The 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, titled ...and other such stories, will present work that explores architecture as it relates to social, political, and environmental issues. Curators Yesomi Umolu, Sepake Angiama, and Paulo Tavares have invited more than 80 architects, artists, researchers, and activists from around the world to converge on the shores of Lake Michigan, where their multidisciplinary collaborations will show the public how design can transform lives. The curators want collaboration and dialogue to be at the center of this year’s event, which gives contributors the opportunity to “expand [their] inquiries by connecting practices to each other and to visitors during the biennial’s run,” said Umolu. The planned collaborative projects include local firm Borderless Studio working with the Istanbul-based Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Architecture For All), studioBASAR of Bucharest, and Berlin’s Zorka Wollny to develop inclusive strategies for repurposing civic spaces on the site of the historic Anthony Overton Elementary School, and Keleketla! Library of Johannesburg which, working with Chicago’s Stockyard Institute, will be creating a space to discuss the importance of heritage sites and public housing at the site of the National Public Housing Museum. The Chicago Architecture Biennial was founded in 2015 to bring the global architectural vanguard to a city celebrated for its legacy of architectural innovation, and to give the public an opportunity to engage with architecture in new ways. It’s a lot like the Venice Architecture Biennale, but instead of a drinking Prosecco in an impossible city built on marshy ground, attendees drink Goose Island 312 in an inevitable city built on railroads and stockyards (or so I’m told—I’ve never been). The inaugural event, The State of the Art of Architecture, was curated by Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda who challenged contributors to take on pressing cultural issues, and 2017’s MAKE NEW HISTORY, curated by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, which highlighted various modes of production from book to burg. This year’s event, …and other such stories, runs from September 19, 2019, through January 5, 2020. It is free and open to the public across all citywide locations. Without any further ado, here are your contributors to the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial:
Exhibition ContributorsAdrian Blackwell (born in Toronto, Canada; lives in Toronto, Canada) Akinbode Akinbiyi (born in Oxford, England-UK; lives in Berlin, Germany) Alejandra Celedon (born in Edmonton, Canada; lives in Santiago, Chile) & Nicolas Stutzin (born in Santiago, Chile; lives in Santiago, Chile) Alexandra Pirici (born in Bucharest, Romania; lives in Bucharest, Romania) Avijit Mukul Kishore (born in Lucknow, India; lives in Mumbai, India) & Rohan Shivkumar (born in Hyderabad, India; lives in Mumbai, India) Black Quantum Futurism (founded in Philadelphia, USA) Borderless Studio (founded in Chicago, USA) CAMP (founded in Mumbai, India) Carolina Caycedo (born in London, England–UK; lives in Los Angeles, USA) Center for Spatial Research (founded in New York, USA) Chicago Architectural Preservation Archive (founded in Chicago, USA) Clemens von Wedemeyer (born in Göttingen, Germany; lives in Berlin, Germany) Cohabitation Strategies (founded in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and New York, USA) & Urban Front (founded in New York, USA) ConstructLab (founded in Berlin, Germany) DAAR (Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti) (founded in Beit Sahour, Palestine) Detroit Planning Department (founded in Detroit, USA) Do Ho Suh (born in Seoul, South Korea; lives in London, England–UK) FICA–Fundo Imobiliário Comunitário para Aluguel (founded in São Paulo, Brazil) Forensic Architecture (founded in London, England–UK) & Invisible Institute (founded in Chicago, USA) Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Architecture For All) (founded in Istanbul, Turkey) Jimmy Robert (born in Guadeloupe–France; lives in Berlin, Germany) Joar Nango (born in Áltá/AltaÁltá, Sápmi/Northern Norway; lives in Romssa /Tromsø, Norway) Jorge González (born in San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in Puerto Rico) Keleketla! Library (founded in Johannesburg, South Africa), in collaboration with Stockyard Institute (founded in Chicago, USA) Maria Gaspar (born in Chicago, USA; lives in Chicago, USA) MASS Design Group (founded in Boston and Poughkeepsie, USA, and Kigali, Rwanda) MSTC (founded in São Paulo, Brazil), in collaboration with Escola da Cidade (founded in São Paulo, Brazil) and O Grupo Inteiro (founded in São Paulo, Brazil) Ola Hassanain (born in Khartoum, Sudan; lives in Khartoum, Sudan and Utrecht, Netherlands) Oscar Tuazon (born in Seattle, USA; lives in Los Angeles, USA) Palestine Heirloom Seed Library Project (founded in the northern West Bank, Palestine) Raumlabor (founded in Berlin, Germany) RIWAQ - Center for Architectural Conservation (founded in Ramallah, Palestine) RMA Architects (founded in Mumbai, India and Boston, USA) Sammy Baloji (born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo; lives in Brussels, Belgium and Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo) & Filip de Boeck (born in Antwerp, Belgium; lives in Brussels, Belgium and Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo) Santiago X (lives in Chicago, USA) Settler Colonial City Project (founded in Ann Arbor USA and Guayaquil, Ecuador) in collaboration with American Indian Center (founded in Chicago, USA) Somatic Collaborative (Felipe Correa & Devin Dobrowolski) (founded in New York, USA) studioBASAR (founded in Bucharest, Romania) Sweet Water Foundation (founded in Chicago, USA) Tania Bruguera (born in Havana, Cuba; lives in New York, USA) & Association of Arte Útil (founded in Havana, Cuba) Tanya Lukin Linklater (born in Alaska, USA; lives in Ontario, Canada) & Tiffany Shaw-Collinge (born in Alberta, Canada; lives in Alberta, Canada) Territorial Agency—John Palmesino & Ann-Sofi Rönnskog (founded in London, England–UK) The Funambulist (founded in Paris, France) Theaster Gates (born in Chicago, USA; lives in Chicago, USA) Usina - CTAH (founded in São Paulo, USA) Vincent Meessen (born in Baltimore, USA; lives in Brussels, Belgium) Walter J. Hood (born in Charlotte, USA; lives in Oakland, USA) Wendelien van Oldenborgh (born in Rotterdam, Netherlands; lives in Berlin, Germany) Wolff Architects (founded in Cape Town, South Africa) Zorka Wollny (born in Kraków, Poland; lives in Berlin, Germany)
Catalog ContributorsAmerican Indian Center (founded in Chicago, USA) Aviwe Mandyanda (BlackStudio) (born in Mdantsane, a township in East London, South Africa; lives in Johannesburg, South Africa) Carmen Silva (born in Santo Estêvão, Brazil; lives in São Paulo, Brazil) cheyanne turions (born in High Prairie, Canada; lives in Vancouver) Dr. Denise Ferreira da Silva (born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; lives in Vancouver, Canada) ELLA (founded in Los Angeles, USA) Emmanuel Pratt (born in Virginia, USA; lives in Chicago, USA) Eduardo O. Kohn (lives in Montreal, Canada) Inam Kula (born in Gugulethu, a township in Cape Town, South Africa; lives in Cape Town, South Africa) Lesley Lokko (born in Dundee, Scotland – UK; lives in Johannesburg, South Africa) Mario Gooden (lives in New York City, USA) Pelin Tan (born in Hilden, Germany; lives in Mardin, Turkey) Stephen Willats (born in London, England–UK; lives in London, England–UK) Vincent Tao (born in Scarborough, Canada; lives in Toronto, Canada) Virginia de Medeiros (born in Feira de Santana, Brazil; lives in São Paulo, Brazil) Vivien Sansour (born in Beit Jala, Palestine; lives in Bethlehem, Palestine and Los Angeles, USA) Columbia Books on Architecture and the City (founded in New York City, USA)
Theaster Gates, MASS Design Group, Wolff Architects, as well as Forensic Architecture and Invisible Institute are among the first wave of contributors announced for this fall’s 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The show, titled ...and other such stories, will be an expansive look into global projects that delve into how architecture relates to land, memory, rights, and civic participation. The initial list of participants, announced last week, features 51 artists, collectives, architects, and researches from 19 countries—only half of the soon-to-be full lineup of participants. According to Biennial Board Chairman Jack Guthman, the international showcase will have something for everyone, designers and Chicagoans alike. “The participants who will explore the significant issues raised by our curators will both challenge and entertain the Biennial’s audiences,” he said. Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu noted the broad range of contributors have backgrounds and projects that “resonate deeply” with the four curatorial areas previously laid out by the organization: “No Land Beyond,” “Appearances and Erasures,” “Rights and Reclamations,” and “Common Ground.” Capetown-based firm Wolff Architects, as well as local Chicago artist Theaster Gates, will present “reflections on landscapes of belonging,” while CAMP from Mumbai and New York’s Center for Spatial Research will uncover the political controversies behind contested spaces of memory. RMA Architects and DAAR, the studio helmed by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, will think about how architecture can act as a site of advocacy. Lastly, Construct Lab from Berlin and Adrian Blackwell of Toronto will “explore methodologies for intervening” in public space. Works on these topics and more will allow visitors the chance to interpret their own opinions about the ways in which architects advances or inhibits global stories of culture and history. The projects will be placed in the main exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, housed in the Chicago Cultural Center. The programming also includes broader, city-wide events and talks. You can read the full list of initial participants here.
The third edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is coming to the Midwest this fall with a curatorial vision by Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu and co-curators Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares. Under the theme ...and other such stories, the biennial will engage “multiple narratives from different geographies and histories” to spark conversation about a future for the field that is shared, diverse, sustainable, inclusive, and equitable. Centered around four areas of inquiry, the biennial will showcase a broad view of the industry while addressing the importance of space, architecture, and nature in connection to the practices of building, designing, planning, policymaking, teaching, and activism. The first focus, “No Land Beyond,” will feature projects inspired by an indigenous approach to nature, ecology, and landscape, while “Appearances and Erasures” will dive into designing monuments and memorials in response to shared and contested memories. “Rights and Reclamations” and “Common Ground” will explore civil rights and advocacy within the field with a particular concentration on affordable and equitable housing. The biennial will also draw from Chicago’s own urban development history, as well as the spatial and socio-economic conditions that have shaped it. By “moving beyond the grand narratives of the city’s architectural heritage,” the biennial will highlight the unique experiences of both architects and everyday people by sharing new voices and perspectives on the environmental and socio-political issues that make up Chicago’s landscape. This idea will be echoed in projects brought to the biennial from around the world. In preparation for the multi-month event, the curators have worked on research initiatives in Chicago, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, and Vancouver to uncover the most important issues to architects and citizens living in cities today. “Through these engagements,” Umolu said in a statement, “we have drawn out a myriad of stories about how lived experiences across global communities, cities, territories, and ecologies resonate with architectural and space-making practices.” The 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial will run from September 19, 2019, through January 5, 2020. It is free and open to the public. The central exhibition will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center, and other sites throughout the city will host exhibitions, projects, and panels.
The Philadelphia Contemporary, which up till now has been an itinerant “curatorial institution,” bridging art, performance, and spoken word with various pop-ups and events around its namesake city, is getting a permanent physical home by Los Angeles firm Johnston Marklee. The firm, whose partners Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee artistic directed the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, have worked on a slew of cultural institutions as of late including the recent Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, which opens next week. Following on its nomadic beginnings, the new kunsthalle will be, as Lee puts it, “inextricably woven into the fabric of the city.” The Philadelphia Contemporary, sans building, has programmed cultural events across the city over the past two years, including an ASMR Film Festival, as part of its two week Festival for the People, an arts event that happened over the past two weekends and featured an impressive array of artists, performers, poets, and others from Philly and around the world, including Hito Steyerl, Andrea Bowers, and Lyrispect. The festival also featured selections from Creative Time’s Pledges of Allegiance, which is a series of 16 flags by a number of artists including Jayson Musson, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Tania Bruguera, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Creative Time’s former chief curator, Nato Thompson, has been serving as the Philadelphia Contemporary’s artistic director. Johnston Marklee was chosen after an extensive search by a 14-member jury comprising representatives from the Philadelphia Contemporary, as well as city officials, members of the arts, design, and literary community, and other local community members. Johnston Marklee will be working with local MGA Partners, the architect of record. The final building design is to be revealed in 2019.
On the eve of the beginning of the trial for Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with (and since convicted of) killing Laquan McDonald, Rahm Emanuel, two-term Chicago mayor, announced that he would not be running for a third term. Citing the need to spend more time with his family, Mayor Emanuel tearfully lamented of his time as mayor: “This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.” Yet, for Chicagoans, Emanuel’s two terms feel like enough to fill multiple lifetimes, both with development projects and architectural optimism, as well as what he will likely be known for: the decision to close 50 neighborhood public schools in 2013, many of which sit vacant and unsold five years later. Under his watch, Chicago became an infrastructure and design-driven cultural hub, with the first iteration of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Chicago Riverwalk, the 606, and the maturation of Millennium Park into a legitimate tourist destination. Emanuel appeared on broadcast television to proclaim that Chicago was a “Trump-free zone,” yet the president’s name is saliently plastered to the side of a skyscraper in 20-foot-tall letters, a blunder approved by the zoning administrator and the alderman, catching the mayor’s attention only after an architectural outcry. A former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, Emanuel would work hard on the national stage to present himself as the antithesis of Donald Trump yet kept largely quiet about it at home. There was the risible focus on assisting Elon Musk with his rapid transit link to O’Hare Airport, and the sideshow-style hawking of sites for Amazon’s HQ2. Then there were the bombastic press releases, the development of Lincoln Yards, the 78-acre mega-development, and the promise that Chicago would deliver the Obama Presidential Center to Jackson Park. Yet among all of these high-profile projects, Emanuel seemed to love the glamour of developer-driven neighborhood projects most of all. The Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Ordinance of 2015 supercharged the construction of bigger, denser residential buildings along Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) lines, changing the architectural character of some neighborhoods and flushing each neighborhood with micro apartments of questionable affordability and access. The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program provided surges of cash to neighborhoods but seemed woefully out of touch with its original intent—to subsidize development in underserved neighborhoods—when funds were used to renovate downtown’s Navy Pier. With regard to Chicago’s historic built environment, Emanuel has made a lot of lofty promises that will be tough for the next mayor to fulfill. In 2017 he announced that he would encourage landmark status for the Legacy Walk in Boystown, a half-mile-long outdoor LGBT history exhibit constructed in 1998, which could be a hard sell to the city council due to its newness and obvious political motivations, as the announcement was made during Chicago Pride. While this could be considered a radical move, older, more vulnerable landmarks of cultural heritage, like sites that assist in telling the narrative of the Black Panther Party in Chicago, have yet to be considered for landmarking. Last year, Emanuel also announced that he would block the sale of the postmodern James R. Thompson Center by the State of Illinois out of fear of having to replace the CTA station beneath it but will not take a stance otherwise on the future of the building or its architectural significance. Attempts to restore the perennially threatened Uptown Theatre have stalled and sputtered under Emanuel’s tenure, including the creation of a nonprofit in 2011 to back a public-private partnership to lead the renovation, which ultimately failed. This past summer, Emanuel announced yet again that the Uptown would be restored using a combination of TIF funds and private investment, handing the responsibility to whoever is elected in February of 2019. Emanuel thought big, but also blew it big, and the success of his ideas and the legacy of his failures lie on the shoulders of the next administration, which may take a different direction entirely—perhaps toward neighborhood-led initiatives and on a smaller scale, working to improve parts of the whole—or continue to champion grandiose civic projects. The announcement that Emanuel will not seek a third term scrambles an already crowded field of candidates and piques the interest of new contenders who now believe that they have a shot at defining how Chicago presents itself in the 21st century. We will see how a new mayor designs it, builds it, and tears it down.
The Chicago Architecture Biennial has selected two co-curators for its 2019 program, educator and curator Sepake Angiama, and architect and urbanist Paulo Tavares. Along with creative director Yesomi Umolu, Angiama and Tavares will round out the curatorial team of the Biennials’ third installment, launching in September 2019 and running through January 2020. An educator based in Europe, Sepake Angiama’s work investigates the relationship between art, education and place. Angiama recently served as Head of Education for Documenta 14, where she initiated a work titled Under the Mango Tree: Sites of Learning in cooperation with the Institut fur Auslandsbezieghugen, a project that gathers artist-lead social spaces, libraries and schools and unfolds discourses around decolonizing educational practices. Paulo Tavares is an architect based in Brasilia, where he serves as professor at the Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo, University of Brasilia. In 2017, Tavares created the Agency Autonoma, a platform dedicated to urban research and intervention. Tavares’ work is concerned with conflict and space as they intersect with cities, territories and ecologies. Tavares is a 2017 Graham Foundation grantee. Both co-curators have research-based practices that look thoughtfully at how the built environment relates to social structures on an international scale, factors that will undoubtedly contribute to defining the theme of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, to be announced later this fall. A Chicago-based curator with a background in architectural design and curatorial practices, Yesomi Umolu was announced as creative director of the Biennial in March. This is the first time in the Biennial’s history that the program has selected one creative director and two co-curators. For the third year, the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial will provide a platform for spatial experiments and architectural practices that demonstrate how innovation and creativity can better our lived experience, with its intersectional exhibits radiating across Chicago from the program’s home base at the Chicago Cultural Center. The opening of the 2019 Biennial will align with EXPO CHICAGO, the international Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art. “I am thrilled that Sepake Angiama and Paulo Taveres are joining me to steward the curatorial direction of the 2019 Chicago Architectural Biennial” said Umolu in a press release. “Sepake and Paulo will broaden the range of ideas and practices at the Biennial.”
Chicago-based curator and writer Yesomi Umolu will curate the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Her unique combination of experience in architectural design and curatorial practice will give her a refreshing take on the program, which has served as a barometer for what is happening in the U.S. and abroad. The Architect’s Newspaper: What is your background, and what brought you to the Chicago Biennial? Yesomi Umolu: So my background is in architectural design. I studied it and I worked in practice for a couple of years in the U.K. at Grimshaw, which is a big high-tech practice, and then at a smaller practice called Haworth Tompkins, doing a lot of collaborations with artists, including Dan Graham with his Waterloo Sunset Pavilion at the Hayward Gallery in London. I was working on projects that represented my passion for the arts. Eventually, I went on to curating contemporary art, but kept my foot in the architecture world through my network. I think the types of narratives and discourses that I was interested in were more related to spatial practices and how both architects and artists were dealing with those issues. What brought you to Chicago? I got a job as exhibitions curator at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. So I’ve been in the U.S. for about seven years. I was at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis before that, and then at the Broad Art Museum at Michigan State in East Lansing. I’ve worked in really nice buildings: Herzog & De Meuron [at the Walker] and then Zaha Hadid [at the Broad], and now Todd Williams and Billie Tsien [at the Logan Center]. So I have been lucky to be surrounded by good architecture. In transitioning from practice to curation, where would you find yourself in relation to the last two Biennials? I would come at it by thinking about space as an inherently political medium and exploring the way in which we make spaces. Spaces are not necessarily neutral things; there are power dynamics at play. Then there are the different sorts of audiences and visitors to those spaces. The critic Jane Rendell coined the term “critical spatial practice,” which was about how one makes spaces and thinks about the politics behind them. She particularly wrote about the relationship between art and architecture, and how architects had a role to play—not just in the building of cultural buildings, but in the formation of cultural spaces, and that their skills could be lent to those spaces as well. Today there are people like Shumon Basar, Eyal Weizman, and other artists who have taken up the helm. I worked with Brad Butler and Karen Mirza, who are in the Weizman architecture school of thought in London, as well as a whole host of others. So that’s where I would kind of situate myself. Broadly speaking, my work has always been interested in questions of globalization, which of course have a spatial articulation to them as well, whether it’s thinking about the flows of people, resources, or money, and how that affects the spaces in which we live and work. So it sounds like there will be some continuity with the last two Biennials. Yeah, exactly. So I think that’s what I can bring to the table: my particular interest in the Global South and also maybe greater access to it as well. So what can we expect in 2019 at the third CAB? Instead of having an idea and just having people funnel into that, I want to create the best team that’s going to help establish a very rigorous conversation through a project of R&D for the next three to six months or so, and a curatorial idea will follow. The role that arts and culture play is obviously something I’m going to be very, very interested in. Secondly, with the Biennial, obviously the last two editions have had folks that have been super embedded in the discipline, whereas it’s nice to have an individual such as myself who has roots in the discipline but can come at it from a slight tangent. I think how we define public space is really important right now—how to redefine participation in public space, and how arts or architecture can be leveraged to encourage more public participation. I’m also really interested in that, thinking about how architecture is communicated from the space of school to the space of practice. I can’t say for sure that it’s going to be like X, but these are my interest areas. What are some of the shows you have curated that might give insight into your thoughts and process? I did a show recently with two Brazilian artists: an artist called Cinthia Marcelle and a filmmaker called Tiago Mata Machado. They’ve been working together for the last five to seven years doing a series of beautiful minimalist videos that look at the social space in Brazil and raise questions of revolution and chaos. These films usually focus on a specific piece of urban fabric or furniture, and then they orchestrate a series of pseudo-performances around that. So we did a show with them this last September that brought together these four video pieces. I think that resonates in terms of thinking about public space, and again, agency, collectivities, and how space can be activated through either political protest or revolution. Also, I did a show recently with Kapwani Kiwanga, who is a Paris-based Canadian artist with a background in comparative religions and ethnography. So she usually mines in a particular history and particular archives and then creates from that. And she was looking at the histories of disciplinary spaces across the world and their sort of legacies and how they affect human behavior and perception. This interview will appear in the upcoming issue 10 of AN Interior.