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How Chicago Architecture Biennial contributors will collaborate locally

International architects and academics will work with locals

The Chicago Architecture Biennial team announced more than 80 artists, architects, researchers, and academics from 20 countries that will contribute to the third edition titled, “…and other such stories.”

A preliminary lineup was announced in March and included Theaster Gates, MASS Design Group, Wolff Architects, and Invisible Institute. In addition to releasing the full lineup, Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu also revealed that a number of contributors will be working with Chicago communities and students through residencies and collaborations.

“This edition, we’ve placed a larger focus on supporting new commissions and original research, which allows contributors to expand on their work and explore future possibilities for the practice of architecture in Chicago and beyond,” Umolu wrote in an email.

One example, will be a project at the site of the Anthony Overton Elementary School in the Bronzeville neighborhood which was shut down in the 2013 closure of 50 Chicago Public Schools. The design agency Borderless Studio, which has previously used the site in previous biennials, will work with Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Architecture For All), architecture firm studioBASAR, and artist Zorka Wollny to explore how art, design and architecture can repurpose civic spaces.

Another contributor, photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi from Berlin, Germany is participating in a residency at School of the Art Institute of Chicago at Homan Square in North Lawndale. He will work with young community members to document and explore their environment through a daily photography practice.

Also, the Johannesburg-based Keleketla! Library will work with Chicago’s Stockyard Institute to develop programming on the importance of heritage sites and public housing at the National Public Housing Museum (the former Jane Addams Homes).

“This year’s range of contributors and programming were designed to support long term initiatives and inquiries that extend beyond the duration of the biennial. It was important for us to support projects that would have ongoing impact in Chicago and elsewhere,” wrote Umolu.

There are 10 contributors, and more to be announced, who are presenting public, collaborative programs throughout the course of the biennial. This edition is putting an emphasis on education and making sure that architecture is “more accessible to a vast audience,” Umolu said.

A part of the biennial will feature a Common Ground exhibition on the first floor of the Chicago Cultural Center. It will be a series of salons, workshops, performances, and installations meant to invite the public, not just industry folks, into the biennial. Berlin-based architects ConstructLab will design the central space which includes work from The Funambulist, a magazine and podcast that covers the politics of space; the Settler Colonial City Project based in Ann Arbor and Ecuador; and the Chicago-based American Indian Center.

The inspiration for this biennial comes from in-depth research of Chicago’s complexities which raised global questions about place, politics, and housing for Umolu and the other two co-directors Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares. And so, it was important for outside contributors connect with local practitioners and communities to understand the city, Umolu said.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial, which is free and open to the public across citywide locations, will kick off September 19, 2019 and run through January 5, 2020. This is the third edition of the months long architecture festival.

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