Key Initiative Launches Third BP Student Design Competition

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Key Initiative Launches Third BP Student Design Competition with the Biennial and Chicago Public Library and Public Schools

CHICAGO (November 5, 2018) – The Chicago Architecture Biennial announced today that BP, its Founding Sponsor, has renewed its support, with a $1 million commitment to the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.  As a key component of this sponsorship, BP will launch the third BP Student Design Competition, which enlists Chicago’s elementary and high school students to create projects that challenge their creative thinking and skills around the Biennial’s program. The BP Student Design Competition will be organized in coordination with the Chicago Public Library and Chicago Public Schools.

“The Chicago Architectural Biennial has brought ideas, intellectual energy, and people from around the world to our great city,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “As we plan for another successful event that celebrates the past of architecture and design while shining a light on the future, we are grateful to generous partners like BP who make it all possible.”  

“The Chicago Architecture Biennial is grateful to BP for its generous support of the 2019 exhibition. BP’s sponsorship of the Biennial, from its inception, is an example of the company’s civic leadership and commitment to Chicago’s cultural institutions. The BP Student Design Competition has become an integral component of the Biennial, a cornerstone of its educational outreach,” noted Chicago Architecture Biennial Chairman Jack Guthman.

The BP Student Design Competition is conceived to empower Chicago youth to creatively re-imagine their civic institutions as places for learning, connecting people in a community, and creating a stronger, more democratic society. Kicking off in the fall of 2018, this iteration of the BP Student Design Competition is conceived as a more robust program – presented annually, rather than biannually as in previous years – engaging students for a greater term of their academic experience and building continuity with students, educators, and institutions. 

Commissioner & CEO of Chicago Public Library Brian Bannon noted: “We are thrilled to partner with BP on this Biennial competition to engage young people in design explorations that explore the possibilities of the 21st century library experience. We are looking forward to seeing how students inspire and engage their peers towards innovative visions of places that demonstrate the power of bringing people together in community."

This year’s program will build on the successes of the 2015 and 2017 competitions, which engaged more than 1,000 aspiring artists and architects from 60 Chicago Public Schools in a citywide exploration of community and the built environment. The alignment with the Chicago Public Library is an outgrowth of the last edition’s competition, which asked students to design a library for Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood that would serve as a community site where people gather to access free resources and take part in civic and community activities.

“The BP Student Design Competition expands the framework of the Biennial into everyday life, and is extraordinary in the way it excites young people about their role as problem solvers and visionaries. Ultimately, this STEAM-aligned program empowers young people from throughout Chicagoland area to propose and create change that could serve them and their peers in new and innovative ways in the future,” commented Chicago Architecture Biennial Executive Director Todd Palmer.

BP’s support of the Biennial is part of a wider tradition of contributing to the civic, cultural and educational foundation of the Chicago area, where more than 3,600 BP employees live and work. In addition to serving as a lead sponsor for all three editions of the Biennial, the company’s contributions to Chicago architecture began in 1974 with the construction of the Standard Oil Building (now the Aon Center) and include the Frank Gehry-designed BP Bridge that connects Maggie Daley Park to Millennium Park.

“Our commitment to Chicago goes well beyond providing the energy and jobs that fuel economic growth,” said Doug Sparkman, Chief Operating Officer, BP Fuels, North America. “We’re proud to sponsor this celebration of the city’s significant contribution to world architecture, while inspiring the next generation of innovators and creators.”

Additional details on the Competition and Awards will be released in the coming months.

BP’s lead sponsorship, alongside the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, provides a strong foundation for the event’s return in 2019. The Chicago Architecture Biennial board is chaired by Jack Guthman. Board members include leadership drawn from key organizations connecting Chicago and the world such as BP, Clayco, Magellan, Navy Pier Inc., Graham Foundation, One Chicago Fund and Krueck + Sexton. New members joining CAB’s Board ahead of the 2019 Biennial are Keating Crown, Principal at Sterling Bay; Helyn Goldenberg, former Chair and Consultant, Sotheby’s Inc. Chicago; Juan Gabriel Moreno, President & Founder JGMA; and Thomas Weeks, Executive General Manager, Development, Lendlease.

The Biennial, now in its third edition, will return September 19, 2019, and run through January 5, 2020. Press and professional previews will take place September 17–18, 2019.

About Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience. Through its constellation of exhibitions, full-scale installations, and programming, the Biennial invites the public to engage with and think about architecture in new and unexpected ways, and to take part in a global discussion on the future of the field.

The Biennial is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to creating an international forum on architecture and urbanism. The manifestation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision for a major international architectural event and an outcome of the comprehensive cultural plan developed by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, under the leadership of Michelle T. Boone, the inaugural 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial was presented through the support of BP, and in partnership with the City of Chicago and the Graham Foundation.

Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda, co-artistic directors, curated the 2015 biennial, entitled The State of the Art of Architecture. The second edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) was the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America, showcasing the transformative global impact of creativity and innovation in these fields. The 2017 Biennial featured over 140 practitioners from more than 20 countries addressing the 2017 theme “Make New History.” Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee selected architects and artists whose eye-opening creations invited the public to explore how the latest architecture can and will make new history in places around the world.

About BP

BP is a global producer of oil and gas with operations in over 70 countries. BP has a larger economic footprint in the U.S. than in any other nation, and it has invested more than $100 billion here since 2005. BP employs about 14,000 people across the U.S. and supports more than 111,000 additional jobs through all its business activities. For more information on BP in America, visit