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Chicago Architecture Biennial attracts half million visitors, 2019 program dates announced

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Tours, lectures, workshops, and film screenings were hosted during the free citywide program

The Chicago Cultural Center, main venue for the Chicago Architecture Biennial
Tom Harris

The second annual Chicago Architecture Biennial was a hit—and officials plans to host the free, citywide event for a third time.

The next Biennial will return September 19, 2019 and run through January 5, 2020, but no theme has been announced yet, according to the mayor’s office.

More than 550,000 visitors were treated to architectural exhibits and installations that tied in with the 2017 theme Make New History, the mayor’s office said. That’s 8 percent more than the first Biennial in 2015, which reached an attendance of 530,000.

The event, which ran from September 16, 2017 until January 7, 2018, showcased groundbreaking projects from 140 architects and designers from 20 countries selected by Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of the LA-based firm Johnston Marklee.

Archi-Union’s pedestals were as much a part of the display as the models
Steve Hall

The core sites, the Chicago Cultural Center and the City Gallery in the Water Tower building, saw 290,834 visitors during the exhibition. Another 264,032 people visited Biennial sites and events across the city at locations including the Hyde Park Art Center, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Garfield Park Conservatory and Mies van der Rohe Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois.

The city gave tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s SC Johnson headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin and engaged more than 10,000 students with field trips and workshops. In total, more than 273 public programs were offered and hosted by institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

“The second Chicago Architecture Biennial reinforced Chicago’s reputation as the vanguard of architectural, art and design innovation on the national and international stage” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement.

If you didn’t get a chance to participate, here are 10 things we loved from the second year of programming.