The U.S. Department of State announced today that the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning will organize the U.S. Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Bienniale.
A model of the exhibition design by Leong Leong, for the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, which created an ad hoc architecture firm. The 2016 pavilion will focus on creating new built work in Detroit.
Image © Naho Kubota / courtesy Leong Leong

Co-curated by Taubman dean Monica Ponce de Leon and Log editor Cynthia Davidson, the exhibition will have a special focus on Detroit. Titled “The Architectural Imagination,” the show will bring together 12 architects or firms to create new work for sites throughout the city. While the pavilion will be Detroit-oriented, the curators hope that it will result in architectural solutions for cities around the world.

"We proposed to do an exhibition of all-new work in order to bring discussion of architecture back to the table, versus a pure discussion of urbanism,” says co-curator Cynthia Davidson, who is also the executive director of the New York-based nonprofit Anyone Corporation.

While the specifics of the building typologies are not fixed, the curators say the exhibition aims to put the work of architects and their design process on display, while creating a dialogue about pressing urban issues such as housing. Another important facet of the pavilion will be community involvement and outreach. Davidson says they are busy preparing a national call for portfolios to select the participating firms. “We’re really going to push them,” Davidson says.

It’s a busy time for Ponce de Leon: the architect, who has served as dean at University of Michigan’s architecture school for the last seven years, was named dean at Princeton’s last month. Her deanship there is effective January 1, 2016.

“The Architectural Imagination” proposal was selected by the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs as the result of an open competition. The 2014 exhibition, OfficeUS, which was co-organized by the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, the journal Praxis, and a research team from MIT, converted the U.S. pavilion in Venice’s Giardini into a temporary architecture studio, designed by Leong Leong.