Has Venice Architecture Biennale finally found a challenging competitor? On sunday 3, Chicago Architecture Biennial closed its doors counting 530.551 visitors in just three months. In 2014, the Venice Architecture Biennale “scored” 228.000 attendees in six months, less the the half of Chicago’s achievement.
“But it would be very simplicistic to say that Venice Biennale is better then Chicago Biennial (or viceversa)… Because it has a lot of figures, because it has more architecture firms or archistars involved in it, because it is more established or more contemporary, etc.
Compairing the two Biennales would make sense only to help to improve them both. Because at the end neither Venice nor Chicago would gain much in being la belle of the ball. Why getting into a battle between who has the longer queues when we could just enjoy a great Biennial every single year?” Enrico Zilli – Editor in Chief of ArchiPanic.
The inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial opened on the 1st of october 2015 and was themed The State of the Art of Architecture. The so-called Windy City bloomed with exhibitions and rediscovered its architectural heritage marked by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies Van der Rohe but also a new vibe from emerging talents.
Beside the figures, Chicago Architecture Biennial proved that a good cooperation between the local municipality and the private sector pays back with a positive escalation.
Co-curator Sarah Herda said “The success of the Biennial lies in the extraordinary connections it has produced at different scales—between architects and the public, between cultural institutions and educational initiatives, between Chicago and the world”.
“The City of Chicago is synonymous with architectural innovation, from the world’s first modern skyscrapers to the forefront of urban design, which is why Chicago was naturally suited to host an architectural event of this scale” Said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Venice Architecture Biennale 2014 began with the arrest of the mayor for corruption charges. Curator Rem Koolhaas spiced up the debate with a challenging question: how is it possible that today architects (or archistars like himself) build the same things everywhere?
And the answers were just great. National pavilions proved that Koolhaas’ premises were quite wrong: most places didn’t absorb modern architecture at all as it was imposed, overlayed, neglected or just unknown.
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But that’s it! A biennale doesn’t necessarily have to sugarcoat architects’ egos or give dogmatic answers. It should push people to reflect, it should rise questions. That’s why we are all looking forward to the upcoming Biennale curated by Alejandro Aravena that will inaugurate on the 28th of may.
The new curator chose a theme even more drastic: “Architecture from the front”. In Venice, architects from every corner of the planet, including Chicago as well, will have to show projects that prove how architecture can create solutions and answers to social and environmental issues.
“There are several battles that need to be won and several frontiers that need to be expanded in order to improve the quality of the built environment and, consequently, people’s quality of life” said Alejandro Aravena to ArchiPanic.
“So let’s keep positive. We are happy about Chicago Biennial’s success and are looking forward to their announced come back in 2017… As much we are looking forward to jump off a boat and see what architects will propose in Venice. Stay tuned!”
Enrico Zilli – Editor in Chief of ArchiPanic.