Chicago Architecture Biennial

The second edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America, showcasing the transformative global impact of creativity and innovation in these fields. This year’s Biennial features over 141 practitioners from more than 20 countries addressing the 2017 theme “Make New History.” Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee have selected architects and artists whose eye-opening creations will invite the public to explore how the latest architecture can and will make new history in places around the world.

The 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial unites a main exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center with a selection of off-site projects, a broad range of aligned exhibitions, and an extensive series of programming for the public that will serve Chicagoan's and visitors alike.


Chicago Cultural Center Dome

Make New History

September 16 - January 7, 2018

  • Location: Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street Chicago, IL 60602

Make New History, the main exhibition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, is curated by Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee who will transform the Chicago Cultural Center by introducing a series of unique viewing experiences. For four months, the rooms, galleries, and even hallways of the Cultural center will allow visitors to experience both the Biennial and the historic building in new ways. The Artistic Directors have drawn out a series of topics from the diverse group of practices and projects on view at the Chicago Cultural Center. These topics are Image, Material, Building, and Civic Histories, which will be woven throughout the show. Whether they take the form of drawings, installations, environments, or performances, these projects reflect the ongoing significance of the past, and the myriad ways that history is invoked in the production of new forms of architectural thought.

Highlights of Make New History include a contemporary exploration of the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower competition at a monumental scale in the Cultural Center’s Yates Hall, a collection of scale model dioramas which reconsider the interiors of some of architecture history’s most iconic buildings and an exhibition of ongoing experiments in contemporary architectural photography curated by Jesús Vasallo entitled A Love of the World. The exhibition represents a selection of works by some of the most innovative photographers in the field today. The Biennial is free and open to the public from September 16, 2017 to January 7, 2018.


The Community Anchor sites are six museums and institutions which expand the presence of the Biennial beyond the Loop and into neighborhoods across Chicago. These sites will host affiliated exhibitions exploring architecture from a range of perspectives.

Beverly Arts Center


September 2017 – December 2018

Elevation will examine the architecture, topography and urban planning of Chicago’s Beverly/Morgan Park area. The exhibit will be arranged as a presentation of the Past (Topography, History, Real Estate Development), The Present (Architectural Photography in Contemporary Settings) and the Future (‘Make New History’, Urban Planning, Architectural Plans, Landscape Architecture)


DePaul Art Museum

Ângela Ferreira: Zip Zap and Zumbi

September 7– December 10, 2017

Architecture has played a major role in Ângela Ferreira’s research-based practice, in which buildings and structures are starting points for works of art that engage with complicated colonial histories in Portugal and sub-Saharan Africa. This exhibition triangulates a dialogue across time and geographies between the modernist forms of Mies van der Rohe, Mozambican architect Pancho Guedes, and vernacular architecture found in Portugal, Brazil and throughout countries in Africa.


Dusable Museum of African American History

Chicago: A Southern Exposure

September 21 – February 16, 2018

Chicago: A Southern Exposure is an exhibition of architectural photography designed to bring attention to the places and spaces–both great and small–of a region of the city of Chicago ignored by the architectural press, tourists and many Chicagoans themselves. Featuring the work of architecture photographer, critic and South Side resident Lee Bey, Chicago: A Southern Exposure is the first major show devoted to South Side architecture.


Hyde Park Art Center

Hyde Park Art Center

Materials Decoded: Amanda Williams & Illinois Institute of Technology Students, September 10 – January 7, 2018

Visual artist and trained architect Amanda Williams leads a special Chicago Architecture Biennial Seminar at IIT with an Undergraduate Studio class focused on investigating the making of new histories particularly through re-used, salvaged, and reclaimed materials that maintain a legacy.

Edward Hines National Forest by Sara Black and Raewyn Martyn, November 12 – February 11, 2018

Chicago-based artist, Sara Black and New Zealand-based artist, Raewyn Martyn construct a new large-scale immersive installation in response to architecture’s relationship with the far-reaching lumber industry that grew out of the south branch of the Chicago River. The exhibition reconsiders the history of building materials, from plant to structure, to produce hybrid forms with byproduct materials that prompt a mindful understanding of the relationship between humans, architecture, and the environment for the current century.


National Museum of Mexican Art

Structures and Spaces: The Construction of Mexican Landmarks in Chicago

August 11 – January 28, 2018

Drawing from the museum's permanent collection as well as local Chicago photographic archives, the exhibition Structures & Spaces will highlight the advent and development of structures and spaces within the Mexican communities in the metropolitan Chicago area. Mexican culture is one that has no borders and is found wherever Mexican communities reside. By featuring significant aspects in culture, the exhibition will focus on early structures and spaces devoted to spiritual practices, popular culture, sports, commerce, education and social services.


Museum of Puerto Rican Culture

The Humboldt Park Stables: A Transition into the Future

September 2017 – January 2018

  • Location: National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, 3015 W. Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622

Along with Juan Gabriel Moreno Architects, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture will design and activate an understanding of the architectural and cultural heritage of the national landmark site of the museum. This layered and multivalent approach reveals the succession of cultures and influences working reciprocally to define local places and structures in the historic Humboldt Park neighborhood.