Chicago Architecture Biennial announces curatorial theme for 2019 edition

Chicago Architecture Biennial graphic identity
The Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019 will take place between 19 September 2019 and 5 January 2020 at the Chicago Cultural Center and across the city. Pictured, the new graphic identity
(Image credit: ELLA)

The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) has announced the curatorial theme for the 2019 edition which will be: ‘…and other such stories’. The theme looks beyond architecture into an exploration of the conditions that affect it, through an expansive, research-led and global approach.

With its main exhibition hub at the Chicago Cultural Center, the third edition of the Biennial will ripple across the city between 19 September 2019 and 5 January 2020. Look out for its punchy new graphic identity designed by Los Angeles-based design studio, ELLA.

While CAB's home city provides much inspiration for the theme, this year it moves beyond the revered architectural heritage of the city to uncover the conditions at play that shape the built environment. Expect multiple disciplines beyond architecture to be addressed, such as visual arts, policymaking, education, and activism.

Chicago architecture biennial portraits

(Image credit: Zachary Johnston)

Yesomi Umolu, artistic director, and Todd Palmer, biennial executive director at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. 

The theme draws from the city-wide and global curatorial process established by the team led by Umolu, and co-curators Sepake Angiama, whose work centres on education, and Paulo Tavares, a Brazil-based architect and academic. ‘Our approach to this edition of the biennial has evolved through conversations with architects, spatial practitioners, and everyday people in Chicago and other global locations, including through partnerships fostered in our research initiatives in the cities of São Paulo, Johannesburg, and Vancouver,’ says Yesomi Umolu, artistic director.

This year’s Biennial moves beyond the architectural heritage of the city to uncover the conditions that shape the built environment

Four curatorial areas of inquiry will segment the biennial: No Land Beyond; Appearances and Erasures; Rights and Reclamation; and Common Ground. These will dig deeper into the theme-crossing issues including indigenous approaches to landscape, monuments and memorials, and civic purpose in architectural practice.

‘We are thrilled that this year’s curatorial focus will open up the architectural conversation on key sociopolitical and environmental issues that shape our present reality and introduce new voices and perspectives. Through the dialogue they catalyse, we expect this Biennial to inform a collectively imagined future,’ says Todd Palmer, biennial executive director. 

Chicago Architecture Biennial announces curatorial theme for 2019 edition

The previous edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2017 was curated by Johnston Marklee.

(Image credit: Tom Harris)


For more information, visit the Chicago Architecture Biennial website

Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.