The Available City

John Hill
20. September 2021
Central Park Theater in North Lawndale, project by Manuel Herz Architects. (Photo © Chicago Architecture Biennial / Nathan Keay)

The 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial opened its three-month run on September 17. Unlike previous iterations that were headquartered at the Chicago Cultural Center, the 2021 event breaks free of the gallery, activating some vacant lots in a half-dozen neighborhoods through site-specific architectural projects, as presented in a short film.

The Available City is the theme selected by designer, educator, and Biennial director David Brown, building upon his ongoing research of the same name that explores uses for the more than 10,000 city-owned vacant lots in Chicago. The fifteen site-specific architectural projects are the main component in this year's Biennial, which also features "exhibition-based explorations" and specially commissioned essays, programs, and workshops. The projects are also the most direct means of addressing Brown's The Available City: full-scale constructions that find architects collaborating with local community groups to provide those communities what they most want and need.

A ten-minute film from the Chicago Architectural Biennial provides an overview of the site-specific projects, highlighting some of the participating architects and the community groups they were paired with:

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