University to host events, exhibitions for inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial

The University of Chicago will host a rich array of events, programs and exhibitions this fall as part of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, a three-month international survey of contemporary architecture in North America.

The events will showcase the University’s evolution as a destination for art and architecture in the city of Chicago. The campus’ early neo-Gothic buildings remain a hallmark of the University and a symbol of its scholarly legacy; today, the institution is home to new buildings designed by some of the most innovative and renowned architects in the world.

“Through its inspiring campus and its scholarship, the University of Chicago has shaped how we think about, create, evolve and interact with the built environment,” said University Architect Steve Wiesenthal. “We are delighted to participate in the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and thrilled the event is taking place in Chicago, a city with a rich tradition of architectural innovation.”

“Over the last decade, the architectural transformation of our campus has been remarkable, changing the look and feel of the university, and adding new vitality to the life of teaching and research, practice and performance,” added Bill Brown, deputy provost for the arts at UChicago. “Our campus contributes meaningfully to Chicago’s stature as one of the world’s great cities for architecture. Participating in the biennial, an amazing addition to the cultural calendar, gives us a chance to focus on built space and to fathom some future state of the art of architecture, both locally and internationally.”

Throughout the biennial, the University will host a diverse collection of events spanning disciplines, forms of inquiry, and formats, including tours, exhibitions and artist conversations.

The “Campus Edges” shuttle tour will visit various sites of architectural activity on and around the University’s Hyde Park campus, including the proposed sites for the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park and Washington Park; the construction site for a new campus residence hall designed by Studio Gang Architects; the Tod Williams and Billie Tsien-designed Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts; the University’s Arts Incubator, envisioned by artist and faculty member Theaster Gates; and the campus’ landmark mid-century buildings by Eero Saarinen and Mies van der Rohe. The shuttle tour will be free and open to the public and will run on select weekend days throughout the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

In partnership with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the University will offer an additional tour focused on campus history. “125th Anniversary: A Historic Architecture Tour of the University of Chicago Campus” will explore the campus’ Gothic architectural roots, mid-century modernism and the new wave of recent, award-winning constructions, including the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library.

Among the many exhibitions featured as part of the biennial are Arts + Public Life’s exhibition Forms of Imagination, Logan Center Exhibitions’ So-Called Utopias and Neubauer Collegium Exhibitions’ Katarina Burin: Petra Andrejova-Molnár – Contribution and Collaboration and Victor Burgin: Prairie.

Forms of Imagination explores the way Arts + Public Life creates ambitious public design and architecture projects that foster creative communities in Chicago’s mid-South Side. The exhibition and related programs give audiences and visitors the opportunity to examine how Arts + Public Life uses its spaces, programs and other resources, as well as its unique partnerships with local artists, designers, students, youth and business owners, to enhance the built environment, cultural landscape and livability of Washington Park. The exhibition will include leading architects’ visions for the Green Line Art Center, a future arts space on Garfield Boulevard, as well as projects by Carlos Rolón/Dzine, PORT Urbanism and Mikel Patrick Avery.

So-Called Utopias brings together artists from around the world in an exhibition that examines the intersection of utopian visions with postcolonial and post-industrial sites. Petra Andrejova-Molnár – Contribution and Collaboration exhibits the works attributed to the Czechoslovakian architect Petra Andrejova-Molnár, an overlooked figure active in the first half of the 20th century, as realized by artist Katarina Burin in the form of architectural models, drawings, furniture and design objects, photographs, and texts. Prairie, a digital projection piece by Victor Burgin, responds to specific architectural sites and explores the erased or disappeared cultural histories, real and imagined, inscribed in the built environment.

The University’s critical inquiries into architecture and spatial experiments extend to public conversations, including a discussion between the Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn and MoMA curator Yasmil Raymond, presented by the Arts, Science & Culture Initiative and the Department of Visual Arts. Hirschhorn and Raymond will discuss their work together on the Gramsci Monument, an acclaimed installation piece displayed in the courtyard of Forest Houses projects in the South Bronx in New York City.

The Smart Museum of Art will host an artist talk featuring Prof. Jessica Stockholder in conversation with architectural theorist Sean Keller. The discussion will touch on the relationship between Stockholder’s work and architecture, as well as her upcoming Chicago Architecture Biennial-featured exhibition at the Smart Museum, Rose’s Inclination.

For more information on the University of Chicago’s Chicago Architecture Biennial offerings, visit