The State of the Art of Architecture

John Hill
6. November 2014
Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial has announced the title of its 2015 inaugural edition – “The State of the Art of Architecture” – and its first participant, renowned photographer Iwan Baan.

When Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial would take place in fall 2015, about the only thing certain was that it would take place primarily at the Chicago Cultural Center, which overlooks Millennium Park. The announcement left many questions, primarily what co-directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda would define as a theme for the participants. The event's organizers cleared up this hole today, announcing the first Biennial will be titled The State of the Art of Architecture.

The name refers to a conference held in 1977 at the Graham Foundation (the institution that Herda now heads) that was curated by Stanley Tigerman, who has been an important instigator and educator, as well as architect, on the Chicago scene since the 1970s. That event "invited leading American designers to Chicago to present and discuss the current state of the field," per a statement from the Biennial, while next year's event will bring "an international and intergenerational architectural network to Chicago to explore how visionary design can take on the most pressing issues of today."

Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

A statement from the Biennial explains the theme:

More than a profession or a repertoire of built artifacts, architecture is a dynamic cultural practice that manifests at different scales and through various media: buildings and cities, but also art, performance, film, landscape and new technologies. It permeates fundamental registers of everyday life—from housing to education, from environmental awareness to economic growth, from local communities to global networks. The State of the Art of Architecture will take stock of the extraordinary ways that architects, artists, designers, planners, activists, and policy makers from around the world are tackling such challenges today.

Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Biennial's first commission is a photo essay by Iwan Baan that will be exhibited at the Biennial and included in the exhibition's catalog. Some of Baan's photos – his signature aerial shots – have been released on the Biennial website, showing recent projects like OMA's McCormick Student Center at IIT in the city's larger context.

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