Big architecture shows are hardly news these days, but the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial (October 2014 – January 2016), is the first time the city of big shoulders has officially showed off its skyscrapers, bungalows, and other architectural gems since the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893!
But does that fact make it worth a visit? No, but here are a few reasons why a trip may be warranted, and a couple why you may want to skip it:
Reasons to Go
- First, this isn’t just a Chicago show, it’s the “largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America,” according to press releases. The show, which will run until January 2016, will include installations about established and emerging architects from throughout North America and beyond. So if you want to see what’s new in architecture all in one place, the show’s worth it.
- Second, the architectural installations will be complemented by art installations and public programs curated by Theaster Gates. If you’re not familiar with this Renaissance man who believes art can transform neighborhoods, check him out here: www.theastergates.com. His involvement ensures that the Biennial will not be boring, nor will it ignore the people who really make up the fabric of a big city.
- Third, the event promises to be more than just a collection of cool buildings. Here’s an excerpt from the city’s press release about the event:
“More than a profession or a repertoire of built artifacts, architecture is a dynamic cultural practice that manifests at different scales and through various media: buildings and cities, but also art, performance, film, landscape and new technologies. It permeates fundamental registers of everyday life—from housing to education, from environmental awareness to economic growth, from local communities to global networks. The State of the Art of Architecture will take stock of the extraordinary ways that architects, artists, designers, planners, activists, and policy makers from around the world are tackling such challenges today.” Read more here>>
- Finally, if you love architecture, Chicago is simply a cool place to be. You can see the big name stuff – Mies van der Rohe, FL Wright – but also the street-level gems that make gritty city life better.
Reasons to Skip It
- Ironically, the greatness of Chicago’s architecture is one reason you might want to skip the Biennial – you can see the best of Chicago’s architecture any day. Sure, the installations, tours, and other events will only happen during those months, but if the Robie House will still be there when the crowds leave.
- Furthermore, visiting during the Biennial won’t be cheap. Even when nothing special is going on, finding a decent room in Chicago under $200 a night is not easy. Few schedule details about the Biennial have been released, but you can figure room rates will jump once news about the bigger events, such as the opening, are announced.
What the Heck…
In the end, you’ll probably be happy if you came. You’ll meet tons of people, see a cool city, and hopefully get inspired to do better work. Even if your wallet is a little lighter on your way home!