Chicago Architecture Biennial Showcases the City’s Ever-Changing Architectural Canvas

CAB 5 -

"Founders" (2019,) a mobile monument and public art installation by the Floating Museum in Photo by Eric Perez, courtesy of Chicago Architectural Biennial


August 25, 2023

Even in a town known for its architectural mainstays, buildings are constantly being put up and torn down. The fifth edition Chicago Architecture Biennial, CAB 5: This is a Rehearsal, kicks off on September 21 with site-specific installations, performances, and exhibits spread across the city. The biennial spotlights how Chicago, never satisfied, is always rehearsing for its next performance.

The biennial looks towards the future, showing the public the way design can change the city, rather than showcasing what already exists. This year’s artistic directors, a local interdisciplinary arts collective known as the Floating Museum—Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, Faheem Majeed, Andrew Schachman, and Avery R. Young—are using the idea of rehearsals to invite “new possibilities through open dialogue, creative invention, and a generative process of discovery to understand how hope and care can emerge in architecture.

CAB 5 - The Floating Museum collective.

The Floating Museum collective is comprised of Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, Faheem Majeed, Andrew Schachman, and Avery R. Young.

The Floating Museum has brought together over 100 cultural practitioners from 30 cities across the world to respond to the city as a permanent state of flux. They will focus on themes of urban ecology, water stewardship, and community growth and connection. Some participating organizations include local non-profits Grow Greater Englewood, Urban Growers Collective, Project Onward, SpaceShift, and the Southside Community Art Center, as well as New York-based organizations like Storefront for Art and Architecture, The Highline, and the Buell Center at Columbia University.

“Individuals, community organizations, institutions, and municipal authorities are invited to participate as equals—which opens new possibilities for collaboration across disciplines, geographies, and histories,” the Floating Museum said in a joint statement.

CAB 5 - "River Assembly" (2017," curated by the Floating Museum.

“River Assembly” (2017) curated by the Floating Museum

From Edgewater to Englewood, This is a Rehearsal will activate community centers in diverse neighborhoods. A large-scale, multisensory installation called Shamiana, will pop up in ShapeShift, an experimental cultural center on Devon Avenue that caters to the Southeast Asian community. Another installation, Theater For One, a mobile performance space created by Christine Jones and designed by LOT-EK, will roam throughout the city for three days. Multimedia performance artist Andrew Schneider will perform for one audience member at a time, cycling through 12 pieces curated by the Poetry Foundation.

Other works at CAB 5 will focus on landscape. The design firm Stoss Landscape Urbanism will create two installations that show the benefits of woodland nurseries through a new-growth forest installation, The Woodland Circle, and public seating that utilizes trees in varying states of decay, Tree Cycles. At 6018North, curator Tricia Van Eck partners with Villa Albertine to present Water, an exhibition that depicts the interconnectedness of the Chicago River to community and culture through the eyes of artist and architect Jennifer Buyck.

CAB 5 - "A Lion for Every House" curated by the Floating Museum

“A Lion for Every House” (2022) curated by Floating Museum for the Art Institute of Chicago

The site-specific events will lead up to a citywide celebration that takes place on November 1, when CAB 5 will open exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center and the Graham Foundation. These spaces will serve as a centralized hub for discussions, performances, and events until the biennial concludes in February 2024.