Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good

Chicago Cultural Center  >  Visual Art Program  >  Exhibitions  >  Past Exhibitions  >  Spontaneous Interventions


Spontaneous Interventions, photo by: Gordon Douglas(click on image to enlarge)


Opening May 24 and running through September 1 Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good features 84 urban interventions initiated by architects, designers, planners, artists and everyday citizens that bring positive change to neighborhoods and cities.

Chicago is the first destination of the installation, which served as the U.S. representation at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (2012). The Chicago installation will recreate the lively exhibition design of pull-down banners, created by Brooklyn design studio Freecell and Berkeley-based communication design firm M-A-D. The contents of the exhibition have been updated to include more recent and more local projects. Among the 84 projects that will be presented, more than a dozen are from Chicago, including several that also appeared in Venice.

Spontaneous Interventions, organized by Cathy Lang Ho on behalf of the Institute for Urban Design, is devoted to the growing movement of architects, designers, artists, and everyday citizens acting on their own initiative to bring improvements to the urban realm, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. The exhibition received over 178,000 visitors in Venice, and earned a Special Mention from the Golden Lion jury, the first time the United States has been honored in the history of the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Our goal with Spontaneous Interventions is to use the exhibition as a framework for understanding a larger movement, in which citizens all over the world are devising and implementing clever, low-barrier urban interventions to make their cities more inclusive, sustainable, pleasurable, and safer,” said Cathy Lang Ho, a New York–based design journalist and curator. “For this reason, we have organized a rich roster of programs that will place the trend of tactical urbanism in the context local urban issues and citizen action.” Program director is Samantha Topol, a Chicago editor and writer.

All summer long, programs will take place at the Cultural Center and at various offsite locations. Many of the programs are organized in partnership with Chicago-based designers, nonprofits, community organizations and city agencies. 


Photo Gallery

click on image to enlarge

  • Spontaneous Interventions Courtesy of Freecell
  • Spontaneous Interventions Courtesy of Freecell
  • Spontaneous Interventions Courtesy of Freecell
  • Spontaneous Interventions Courtesy of Freecell
  • Spontaneous Interventions Courtesy of Freecell
  • Spontaneous Interventions Courtesy of Freecell


Artists and Organizations Featured in the Exhibition:

Candy Chang, Change Administration (Aurash Khawarzad), Center for Urban Pedagogy, COMMONstudio, CROP, Design 99, DSGN AGNC (Quilian Riano), Alexander Eisenschmidt with Cheng+Snyder, envelope a+d (Douglas Burnham), Experimental Station, Theaster Gates, Fritz Haeg, Hester Street Collaborative, LA Green Grounds, Latent Design, Public Media Institute (Ed Marzewski), Moving Design (Ric Valicenti and John Pobojewski), Neighborland, OpenPlans, Rockwell Group, Stamen, Street Plans Collaborative (Mike Lydon), Team Better Block, Jordan Seiler, WORKac, and more.




May 24 - September 1, 2013





  • Monday–Friday, 10am–7pm
  • Saturday–Sunday, 10am–5pm

Closed Holidays




Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602








For a complete list of projects and programming visit www.spontaneousinterventions.com




The following services are available at the Chicago Cultural Center for persons with disabilities:

  • Accessible entrance, 77 E. Randolph St.
  • Accessible restroom facilities
  • Wheelchair loans, see information desk for availability
  • ASL interpreters are provided with 72 hours notice
  • Assisted Listening Devices available for public event




Public Transportation:
For travel information, visit www.transitchicago.com

 Supporting Information Facts

 I Want To