Walking around the Chicago’s downtown is a safari into architectural history: its buildings, large and small, are living specimens, that showcase 100+ years of modern building technologies and theories.
From early skyscrapers with 6th thick brick walls, to Louis Sullivan’s flowing organic ornamentation, to Mies’ steel monuments to 20th century progress, it’s part museum and part metropolis. With such an architectural cachet, it’s surprising Chicago hasn’t matched it with an equally vibrant contemporary architectural scene. With the best schools, museums, and media publications mostly on the East Coast, Chicago has remained a strong — but still second — city. That may change as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel seek to found a architecture Biennial, a once per two years event of exhibitions, installations, and performances that may bring the city to the architectural forefront. Will Chicago rival Venice’s venerable Bienniale and become the nexus of North American architecture? Or will it fizzle in the face to multitudes of other design festivals? Read on to find out.
Top Image Courtesy Iwan Baan / Chicago, 2014