November 4, 2015

Chicago Architecture Biennial Attracts 175,000+ Visitors Since Opening

Attendance spikes by nearly 50% at Biennial hub, Chicago Cultural Center

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that more than 175,000 Chicago residents and visitors attended the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) in its first month. The Biennial, which opened October 1-3, is the largest international survey of contemporary architecture taking place in North America, showcasing the visionary ideas of 100 architects and designers from 30 countries. The Chicago Architecture Biennial runs through January 3, 2016, and is free and open to the general public at the Biennial’s hub, the Chicago Cultural Center, and sites across the city and the region.

Estimated attendance at the Chicago Cultural Center since CAB opened is 104,000 – a nearly 50% increase. More than 2,500 students have visited the Biennial as part of its outreach to school groups.

Upcoming public programs at the Chicago Cultural Center include docent-led exhibition tours daily at 10 a.m. (excluding Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day), Tuesday Talks with architects on select Tuesday evenings, the Architects on Film series on select Wednesday evenings and the Building Blocks lecture series featuring artists on November 13, 16 and December 3, 17. Chicagoans and visitors may also enjoy free exhibitions, tours, lectures, films, performances and special events at the Stony Island Arts Bank on the city’s South Side and other sites throughout the city including the BP Prize-winning “Chicago Horizon” Lakefront Kiosk, neighborhood parks and libraries, universities and museums. Free motor coach tours to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed SC Johnson headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, continue on Thursdays through Sundays.

“The City of Chicago is synonymous with leading architecture, from the world’s first modern skyscrapers to the forefront of urban design, which is why Chicago is naturally suited to host an architectural event of this scale,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The study and discussion of architecture is engrained in the civic fabric of Chicago, and the first-ever Chicago Architecture Biennial provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for both seasoned professionals and everyday citizens to enjoy, discuss and critically examine the design that impacts the world in which we live.”

“Over the past year, we have had hundreds of insightful and engaging conversations with architects from around the world about the pressing issues and innovations shaping the fields of architecture and design. I'm so inspired to now see these ideas come to life through the dynamic exhibitions, programs and performances found throughout the Chicago Cultural Center and the city,” said Sarah Herda, Chicago Architecture Biennial Co-Artistic Director.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial runs through January 3, 2016, and is free and open to the general public at the Chicago Cultural Center and sites across the city and the region. The event is supported by the City of Chicago and the Graham Foundation, with additional support from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the Chicago Park District. All funding for the event is privately raised, with significant investments from BP and SC Johnson.

“BP has a long history of contributing to the Chicago area which is home to more than 2,000 of our employees,” said BP America Chairman and President John Mingé. “The Chicago Architecture Biennial is another sign of that commitment, and we hope that it both honors and adds to the tradition of architecture that has made this city great.”

One of the many exhibits in the Chicago Cultural Center is called “Bold: Alternative Scenarios for Chicago” and features 18 projects and ideas for the city of Chicago. Elsewhere in the Chicago Cultural Center is full-scale house that can be built for less than $4000, by the Vietnamese architecture office Vo Trong Nghia Architects; and the Swiss-based office Gramazio Kohler has collaborated with the MIT Self-Assembly Lab to make the first architectural construction built by robots using only rocks and thread.

For a complete list of exhibitions, public programs, supporters, media partners and program partners, visit:


The Chicago Architecture Biennial, open through January 3, 2016, provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience. Through a constellation of exhibitions, full-scale installations, and a program of events, the Biennial will invite the public to engage with and think about architecture in new and unexpected ways, and to take part in a global discussion on the future of the field.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial was envisioned by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and is an outgrowth of the comprehensive cultural plan developed by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and its commissioner, Michelle Boone. Released in October 2012, the Chicago Cultural Plan provides a framework to guide the city’s cultural and economic growth.

The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial is curated by Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda, and takes its title, “The State of the Art of Architecture,” from a 1977 conference organized by Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman, which invited leading American designers to Chicago to discuss the current state of the field. The 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial will expand the spirit and scope of this event. It will invite both emerging and established practices from across the world to Chicago to demonstrate how advances in architectural design are tackling the most pressing issues of today.