The first ever Chicago Architecture Biennial kicked off last weekend with events and activities taking place all over the city, and over 31,000 people partook in the various opening festivities, according an official announcement from Biennial organizers. The opening happenings saw visitors from around the world, and put the Chicago Cultural Center front and center. The Cultural Center alone witnessed 25,000 visitors over the four day opening period for the Biennial — a huge boost from its average 8,800 visitors in the same time frame. And not only has the launch of the Biennial been a success from an attendance standpoint, many critics and architects have praised the event. Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman praised the Biennial in a statement, declaring the exhibition at the Cultural Center was "nothing short of amazing."
Here's Tigerman's full letter:
To the Editor: As someone who has actually been to the Venice Bienniale (of both Art and Architecture varieties) I am stunned, if not thrilled, at seeing the premiere Chicago Architecture Biennial. The Cultural Center never looked so good and the variety of scales of objects is nothing short of amazing. In high-ceilinged, large volume spaces, the large scales exhibited there look utterly splendid and in low-ceilinged, small volume spaces the appropriation of scaling down exhibits is equally mesmerizing. This is not to say that everything is wonderful but what is wonderful, is the energy that was apparent, to say nothing of the 3500 people there on a weekday today enjoying the stimuli of the Biennial.
I have never felt so good about being a native of this city and of its mayor's and commissioner of cultural affairs' commitment to engage Chicago, once again, to the heart and soul of architectural ideation. I am humbled to witness the work of the youngest generation, whose intellectual zest is only surpassed by their optimism. It is a great thing to wake up knowing that Chicago is once again in the vanguard and I for one will be forever grateful to Sarah Herda and Joseph Grima and in the leadership of the body politic, namely Rahm Emanuel and Michelle Boone, for their bold if not daring support as we make our way through the 21st century.
Some years back, when I first evinced support for the next generation of architects by exploiting the notion of "passing the baton", I never frankly dreamed just how visionary they would be in actuality. My job is done because it is clear that this group has coalesced into a vital force as a collective change agent.