A 2013 installation at New York's Storefront for Art and Architecture by Bittertang Farm
A 2013 installation at New York's Storefront for Art and Architecture by Bittertang Farm Credit: Courtesy Chicago Architecture Biennial

This fall brings the return of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, an exposition of activities, tours, and exhibitions all over the city that highlight the power of architecture and the ways in which Chicagoans inhabit the spaces of the city. Although looking at skyscrapers and touring old houses are always edifying and fun ways to check out Chicago, the Biennial asks its audience to think harder, interact more, and gain an understanding about what the principles of the built environment really mean to our daily lives.

This year’s theme, “The Available City,” serves as a framework for a community-led approach to the ongoing questions of the Biennial, which are also core concepts to consider when thinking about the things we build and the ways in which we inhabit space. How are we living? How do our choices affect Chicagoans in other neighborhoods? Who gets to make the decisions about how our cityscape looks? Why was this building put here, and why is that empty lot sitting there? 

https://chicagoreader.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Biennial-overview-video.mp4
An overview of the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial, courtesy of the Biennial organizers.

Programming for the Chicago Architecture Biennial will take place in various areas across the city, including Lawndale, the South Loop, Woodlawn, Edgewater, and also online. It all kicks off with celebrations on Saturday 9/17 and Sunday 9/18, which include the debut of the CCA Academy PermaPark, a project by the Bittertang Farm group (Saturday’s event at 1320 S. Pulaski will include a vaccination clinic and a barbecue), and the kickoff for the Englewood Village Plaza project built by Atelier Bow-Wow (Saturday’s event at 58th and Halsted launches a new Englewood Village Market with fresh produce and activities for kids).

Chicago Architecture Biennial event and program information for “The Available City” is available at chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org.

For a look at architecture gone by, consider going to Wrightwood 659 this fall to see “Romanticism to Ruin: Two Lost Works of Sullivan and Wright,” an exhibition of photographs and research about two buildings that are no more: Louis Sullivan’s Garrick Theatre Building in Chicago and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building in Buffalo, New York. Wright’s building was up for 44 years, and Sullivan’s Garrick Theatre Building stood for 69 years at 64 W. Randolph, but even photographs of the buildings’ ruins showcase the imposing physical presence and architectural legacy that these two structures carry to this day.

“Romanticism to Ruin: Two Lost Works of Sullivan and Wright,” on view 9/24-12/18 at Wrightwood 659, 659 W. Wrightwood, wrightwood659.org 

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