The eighteen projects included in this exhibition explore new possibilities for the city of Chicago
Iker Gil has curated and designed the exhibition BOLD: Alternative Scenarios for Chicago as part of the first Chicago Architecture Biennial that took place between October 3, 2015 and January 3, 2016. The exhibition was located in the Garland Gallery at the Chicago Cultural Center.
The eighteen projects included in this exhibition explore new possibilities for the city of Chicago. Generated by both emerging and established Chicago-based architects and designers, these projects rethink the future of the city without the need to respond to a brief by a client. At the same time, it explores the agency of the architect in shaping these scenarios. While they are generated without a client, these projects operate fully aware of the constraints and realities of Chicago with the intention to engage in fruitful conversations with public and private agencies to shape its future.
The selection of projects offer alternative strategies to key issues present at multiple scales: regional studies exploring interconnected layers such as biodiversity dynamics, agricultural production, and hydrology; urban strategies addressing ecological and infrastructural challenges while providing a sustainable revenue stream and conceptualizing new civic possibilities; speculative proposals exploring the urban design potential of Chicago’s vacant lots; innovative high-rise typologies marrying the latest technology, economic motivations, and idealized urban domestic life; new forms of architecture (aesthetic, spatial, and social) embracing technology’s influence on human sensory perception and environmental control; and a reexamination of issues, such as the use of history in the design of architecture and contemporary ideas surrounding libraries and the city, sparked by a late entry to the 1987 Harold Washington Library Center competition. These projects present the issues at stake in Chicago and the architectural scenarios to address them.
But architects are not the only ones looking at the city. Other disciplines are exploring the same issues that architects are interested in but through different lenses—complementing, expanding, and even questioning our understanding of the city. To generate that exchange, two projects that chose photography and map-making as their medium are incorporated into the exhibition to provide a look at the current state of the city. These projects document our relationship with vacancy, questioning how we might bridge disparate experiences of vacancy and what the relationship between planning and informality is, as well as uncover the stories hidden in the city through the abstraction and isolation of big data.
The eighteen projects that are part of this exhibition, along with a series of related events, present an excellent opportunity to engage in public debates about the issues we face, the possibilities they present, and the challenges we need to overcome to make them happen. Eighteen ideas that have the potential to foster complex and fascinating conversations that carry on past the duration of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Eighteen scenarios that envision possible futures for Chicago.
The exhibition includes work by 3D Design Studio, David Brown, Central Standard Office of Design, Design With Company, Hinterlands, Jahn, Ania Jaworska, JGMA, Krueck+Sexton Architects, Landon Bone Baker Architects, Margaret McCurry, Michael Pecirno, PORT Urbanism, David Schalliol, SOM and CAMESgibson, Stanley Tigerman, UrbanLab, and WEATHERS.
The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, titled The State of the Art of Architecture, took stock of the extraordinary ways in which architects, artists, designers, planners, activists, and policy makers from around the world are tackling the most pressing issues of today. By shining a light on realized architectural projects, projects in formation, spatial experiments made visible, and public gatherings, the Biennial seeks to generate thinking about architecture and its implications for our times.