5 Highlights at the Chicago Architecture Biennale

Chicago Architecture Biennale

On Friday, the inaugural Chicago Architectural Biennial opened its doors to the public. The largest stateside exposition of its kind, the biennale brought more than 100 international firms to the American architecture mecca, which is home to iconic buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe. The question at hand was the state of architecture today as it pertains to such monumental variables as the right to personal style, the environment, urban design, and global politics.

Among the knowledgeable and immaculately styled participants, Beatrice Galilee, the associate curator of architecture and design at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, had an interesting perspective on the exhibition—having only just served as the head curator of the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale. Pieces she commissioned for Lisbon, including “Superpowers of 10,” a performance by Andrés Jacque Architects riffing on a Charles and Ray Eames film, made their way to the Biennial. Here, Galilee shares her highlights from Chicago.


Photo by Steve Hall.


Bryony Roberts and South Shore Drill Team’s Who Know How to Order Performance at the Chicago Federal Center “The hard thing about architecture biennales is always is that you don’t have architecture, so you kind of have to improvise. In Chicago you have such amazing architecture it was super smart to do it in that square with that iconic Mies van der Rohe building, so everyone is encouraged to see the local architecture but also see a super sweet performance.” Photo by Steve Hall.


Atelier Bow-Wow’s Piranesi Circus “Inside the courtyard, they made this network of pathways and bridges. They created this imaginary world that didn’t really make sense—you can’t go anywhere—but it’s very theatrical and in the center of it all.” Photo by Steve Hall.


Pedro&Juana’s Randolph “Their entrance was so smart. They are such brilliant young designers from Mexico City—and this was a great break for them. It was a cool way to take part of the city and make it into the biennale. It set the scene for talking about younger firms.” Photo by Steve Hall.


Tatiana Bilbao S.C.’s Sustainable House “It was an $8,000 house, but you could readily imagine people living there. It wasn’t styled for an all-weather situation, but I thought it played off nicely with the MOS house.” Photo by Steve Hall.


Amanda Williams’s Color(ed) Theory “She did this really simple thing, which is looking at color and architecture with this really beautiful series of photographs. I thought it was elegant.” Photo by Steve Hall.