Biennial Draws A Half Million Visitors, Will Return In 2017


The Chicago Architecture Biennial is gone but not forgotten. Last Sunday, the event closed after three months. It attracted 530,551 visitors, according to Biennial planners.

Those architecture fans visited the Chicago Cultural Center, Rebuild Foundation’s Stony Island Arts Bank, Graham Foundation, SC Johnson’s tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed campus, and the lakefront kiosk pavilions on Chase Promenade in Millennium Park).

Lakefront Kiosk.

Lakefront Kiosk.

Another 114 cultural and educational institutions across the city and region presented 313 partner programs and 67 partner exhibitions. More than 10,000 students experienced the Biennial. Working with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Biennial created a special program for K–12 students, including bilingual tours, a downloadable guide for children, and a teen ambassador program.

By all accounts, the first Chicago Architecture Biennial was a big success. It featured 120 participating architecture firms from 30 different countries featuring  93 projects.


“The first-ever Chicago Architecture Biennial was an unequivocal success, exceeding our expectations for attendance and bolstered Chicago’s reputation as the vanguard of architectural thinking on the national and international stage,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “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. I want to thank all of the architects, organizers, and residents of Chicago who participated in this event and made it such a tremendous success for our City.”

The best news coming out of the Biennial is that it will be returning. That won’t occur until 2017, and the specific dates aren’t yet known, but students, practitioners and aficionados of great architecture have two years to rest up for phase 2.

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at

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