Rialto bridge in Venice and Chicago bridge - Photos by Adry and Daniel X O'Neil, Flickr CC.

Rialto bridge in Venice and Chicago bridge – Photos by Adry and Daniel X O’Neil, Flickr CC.

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.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and NLÉ in Millennium Park. Photo by Steve Hall, © Hedrich Blessing - Courtesy of the Chicago Architecture Biennial

Millennium park installation by Chicago School of the Art Institute with NLÉ studio . Photo by Steve Hall, © Hedrich Blessing. Read more.

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.

Korean Pavilion "Crow's Eye View" - courtesy of the Korean Pavilion.

Venice 2014: Korean Pavilion featured works both from North and South Korea – courtesy of Misul Cho. Read more.

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.

Portrait of Alejandro Aravena - Photo by Cristobal Palma, courtesy of ELEMENTAL.

Venice Biennale 2016 will be curated by Alejandro Aravena (above) – Photo by Cristobal Palma.

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.

RELATED STORIES: Read ArchiPanic full report on the most innovative projects and exhibitions at Chicago Architecture Biennial…


Chicago 2016: aerial portrait of the city by photographer ©Iwan Baan. Read more.

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.

Chicago Horizon by team Ultramoderne - Photos: courtesy of Chicago Architecture.

Chicago 2016: local schools and international studios designed panoramic kiosks. Read more.

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”.

Stony Island Arts Bank - All photos by Steve Hall, courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennale.

Chicago 2016: a derelict bank building was turned into an art centre to preserve the city’s black culture heritage – Photo by Steve Hall. Read more.

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.

Chicago Architecture Biennale 2015.

Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015.

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?

RELATED STORY: In Venice, Rem Koolhaas rowed against the flattening effect of archistars’ designs with the “Absorbing Modernity” provocation…

ABSORBING MODERNITY . ArchiPanic selection of the most impressive national participation at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale.

Venice 2014: our favourite pavilions. Read more.

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.

RELATED STORY: Read more about Venice Biennale on ArchiPanic …

Chile Pavilion "Monolith Controversies" - Photo by Gonzalo Puga.

Venice 2014: In Chile, modern architecture was politically imposed with serial concrete housing – Photo by G. Puga. Read more.

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.

View of Arctic Adaptations exhibition, Arctic Adaptations, 2014 Image courtesy of Latreille Delage Photography.

Venice 2014: Remote communities in Arctic Canada never absorbed modern architecture – Image courtesy of Latreille Delage Photography. Read more.

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.

RELATED STORY: In Venice, Aravena pushes for human architecture designed for human needs.

UC Innovation Center Anacleto Angelini by Elemental - Photo by Nina Vidic, Courtesy of Elemental.

UC Innovation Center Anacleto Angelini by Elemental – Photo by Nina Vidic.

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.

Photo by Tom Harris.

Chicago 2016: Stony Island Art Bank – Photo by Tom Harris.