Chicago Architecture Biennial

BOLD: Alternative Scenarios for Chicago

by John Hill
On 10 Oct 2015
Design With Company, "Late Entry to the Chicago Public Library Competition" (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

An exhibition within an exhibition, BOLD: Alternative Scenarios for Chicago assembles 18 projects by Chicago-based architects as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, now on display at the Chicago Cultural Center.

With so much of the Biennial, under artistic directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda, devoted to architects from outside Chicago, the BOLD exhibition, curated by Iker Gil of MAS Studio and the journal MAS Context, is a necessary, locally focused companion. Occupying the Garland Gallery in the middle of the Cultural Center, the exhibition shows that Chicago is still home to innovative thinking on architecture and the city, from both young architects and old.

Half of the eighteen participants submitted standalone projects, such as Port Urbanism's "The Big Shift," which proposes a series of skyscrapers along the existing lakefront, which would turn Grant Park into a Chicago's own Central Park and push the beaches further out into Lake Michigan. Design With Company looks back to the controversial 1987 competition for the Harold Washington Library, won by Thomas Beeby's firm with a Postmodern mass of stone topped by ornamental acorns and owls; their contribution piles twenty whitewashed alternatives into a bold mashup of historical and modern forms.

The other half of BOLD consists of nine responses to David Brown's "The Available City," which originally examined the potential for the thousands of vacant lots in Chicago and was displayed at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. Brown pinpointed nine vacant lots and gave them to architects both established and young: 3D Design Studio, Ania Jaworska, Central Standard Office of Design, Jahn, JGMA, Krueck+Sexton, Landon Bone Baker, and Tigerman McCurry. These local speculations are a refreshing antidote to the myriad experiments floating elsewhere about the Biennial.

General view of BOLD (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)
Port Urbanism, "The Big Shift" (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)
Detail of JGMA's contribution to the "Nine Responses to the Available City" (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)
Detail of JGMA's contribution to the "Nine Responses to the Available City" (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)
Design With Company, "Late Entry to the Chicago Public Library Competition" (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

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