With more than 100 projects from every inhabitable continent descending on Chicago for the city’s first architecture biennial, the work on display might seem to be grounded in a placeless globalist ether rather than the dozen represented countries. At least nine of the participating practices are located in two or more places at once, with one partner splitting time in two locations, or two partners based thousands of miles apart. Yet the assembled roster’s work remains committed to using local context to engage with issues just outside architecture’s borders: ecology, inequality, resilience, and more. This tension between the global and the local is one of the consistent themes in the run-up to the biennial.
“It exemplifies the different ways people are working, and the plurality of positions and voices,” says Sarah Herda, biennial coartistic director. “This selection of people does not represent a single ideological position, and we think that reflects what’s happening in architecture today.”