Chicago Architecture Biennial Announces More Than 40 Citywide Partner Sites and Organizations

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Cultural organizations from across Chicago activate with independent programming in coordination with the Biennial, resulting in a citywide exploration of architecture, space, the environment, history, and community

CHICAGO (June 26, 2019) – The Chicago Architecture Biennial announced today that more than 40 sites and organizations across the city of Chicago will partner with the Biennial, both serving as host venues and producing independent exhibitions that expand on the Biennial’s exploration of the forefront of contemporary architectural and spatial practice and thought. Ranging from the Art Institute of Chicago to the Danish Art Foundation and the Graham Foundation to the Chicago Cultural Alliance, these organizations represent many of Chicago’s leading institutions and organizations, each contributing perspectives that draw out unique stories that are particularly relevant to their programming and public and that resonate with the 2019 Biennial, titled ...and other such stories.

The storied Chicago Cultural Center acts as the main venue for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. A former library, the Chicago Cultural Center will again serve as the main exhibition space for the Biennial, featuring projects created by more than 80 participants from more than 20 countries. Extending the reach of the Biennial’s own satellite locations at Overton Elementary School, the National Public Housing Museum’s future site at the former Jane Addams Homes, Sweet Water Foundation, Homan Square with the School of the Art Institute, American Indian Center Chicago and the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, this edition’s partner sites and their related programming will activate the entire metropolis.

“I’m proud that so many of Chicago’s cultural institutions and organizations are collaborating and engaging together and with people throughout the entire city,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “I’m excited that my first year as Mayor will include this type of cultural alliance that connects memory, history, civil and environmental rights as they relate to architecture while addressing some of the key issues impacting Chicago’s citizens.”

“The participation of organizations across the city in the Biennial is always critical to our work, and is especially so with this edition, which is deeply focused on the lived experience of people in the spaces they occupy,” noted the Biennial’s Executive Director Todd Palmer. “We are so excited to see the full city coming alive with programming in conversation with one another, engaging publics from across communities and around the world, exploring the significance of architecture today.”

Many of these partners are producing programs that build on the Biennial’s key inquiries into how architecture builds and shapes community and memory.  Some key highlights include:

  • The Danish Arts Foundation with Garfield Park Conservatory and the Chicago Park District, presenting Cabbage Patch by Danish artists Gamborg/Magnussen -- a field of 10,000 cabbages and a fully functional outdoor garden kitchen in the middle of the historic park, creating a gathering spot for local community groups, school programs, designed to spark dialogue about the city’s and the neighborhood’s collective memory;
  • Art Institute of Chicago, exhibiting In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury -- an exhibition uniting the work of Clara Porset, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Cynthia Sargent, and Sheila Hicks across mediums, inspired by both local Mexican traditions and modern methods;
  • Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, presenting an immersive installation by the Mexico City-based architecture office Tatiana Bilbao Estudio that explores new ways of making and using common space;
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, presenting The Shape of the Future, an exhibition of works from the MCA permanent collection that reckon with the dubious dream of a universal design language, highlighting the histories and ideologies embedded in the built environment, while revealing the complexity—and at times absurdity—of the modernist project as a collection of disasters and reveries; as well as Chicago Works: Assaf Evron, an exhibition of work by the Chicago artist that dwells at the interstice of architecture, decoration, place, and image; and
  • Navy Pier, bringing Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Foundation’s The Ship of Tolerance to Chicago. This multidimensional project, which includes a large-scale installation of a ship located in Polk Bros. Park at Navy Pier’s entrance, will be a part of EXPO CHICAGO’s 2019 IN/SITU Outside program, opening concurrently with the eighth edition of EXPO CHICAGO.

Additionally, the Biennial will continue its work with the Community Anchor sites -- the six museums and institutions which expand the presence of the Biennial beyond the Loop and into neighborhoods across Chicago. These sites, comprised of the Beverly Arts Center, DePaul Art Museum, Hyde Park Art Center, DuSable Museum of African American History, National Museum of Mexican Art and National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, will connect local publics to the questions raised by the core Biennial exhibitions through learning initiatives and programs, and as venues of the Biennial link broad audiences from across Chicago and internationally to the ways in which neighborhoods are addressing urban and environmental challenges through the ongoing arts and cultural exhibitions and programs at these sites.

“The Biennial’s partnerships across the city link its program to institutions of international renown and to venues which uniquely reflect the diversity of the city’s neighborhoods,” remarked Chairman of the Board Jack Guthman. “We value these alliances. They enable the exhibition to reach both the architecture profession and a broader public—and confirm the Biennial’s place in the cultural landscape of Chicago.””

In support of the Biennial’s mission to create a forum to present the vanguard of thinking on contemporary architecture both to the field and the broader public in Chicago, the Graham Foundation has named and committed multi-year support to fund the position of Artistic Director for the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Biennial. The Artistic Director position, which is appointed by the board each year, is held by the Director and Curator of University of Chicago’s Logan Center, Yesomi Umolu for the 2019 edition. Sarah Herda, one of the inaugural Artistic Directors of the Biennial and the current director of the Graham Foundation, noted, “We are thrilled to support the Artistic Director position, which plays a vital role in each edition to bring thought-leaders from around the world and across the city in a collective conversation on the past, present, and future of architecture.”

Additional detail on performances, lectures, educational programs, workshops, and events being produced by the Biennial and over 100 local and global partners will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is the largest exhibition of contemporary architecture, art and design in North America. The Biennial, which is free and open to the public, will open the central exhibition in the Chicago Cultural Center on September 19, 2019 and run through January 5, 2020. Press and professional previews will take place September 17–18, 2019. The opening of the 2019 edition will again align with EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art. Founding sponsor BP will renew its support in 2019 as a lead sponsor alongside the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, providing a strong foundation for the event’s return.


Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019 Partner Sites



AIA Chicago

Alliance Française de Chicago 

American Indian Center Chicago 

Art Institute of Chicago   

Beverly Arts Center

Bridgeport Art Center   

Carrie Secrist Gallery   

Chicago Architecture Center

Chicago Cultural Alliance   

Chicago History Museum

Chicago Public Library

City of Chicago, Department of Planning and Development

DePaul Art Museum

DuSable Museum of African American History

Elmhurst Art Museum   


Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts    

Harris School of Public Policy

Hyde Park Art Center

Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture

Instituto Cervantes of Chicago and MAS Context 

Jane Adams Hull House Museum

Logan Center for the Arts

McCormick Place

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago   

National Museum of Mexican Art

National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture

National Public Housing Museum

Navy Pier, Inc.   

Neubauer Collegium

The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, McHugh Construction, Odico Formwork Robotics and Chicago Athletic Association

Smart Museum of Art

Swedish American Museum

Sweet Water Foundation

Tender House Project at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum 

The 606 with the High Line Network   

The Danish Arts Foundation, Garfield Park Conservatory and Chicago Park District   

The Night Gallery   

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum   

University of Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture

Volume Gallery   

Wrightwood 659