eisenschmidt + mekinda curate architectural chicagoisms exhibition
all images courtesy of alexander eisenschmidt and jonathan mekinda
mined from the archives of the chicago history museum, five principles have been identified for an exhibition called ‘chicagoisms': vision shapes history, optimism trumps planning, ambition overcomes nature, technology makes spectacle, and crisis provokes innovation. located within the art institute of chicago, these terms are used as springboards for experiments as the city today bears little of the restlessness and ambition to imagine urban conditions that made it one of the earliest and most vital examples of the modern metropolis. nine teams of contemporary architects were invited to conceive visions inspired by the city that project as models from an array of historical imagery. together these elements construct a panorama of alternative urban worlds.
exhibition view with models under glass domes
for over a century after its incorporation in 1837, chicago captivated people across the globe as a harbinger of the urban world to come. projects such as the ferris wheel at the columbian exposition of 1893, the reversal of the chicago river, and the construction of the circle interchange demonstrated the city’s openness to experimentation and drive to reinvent itself in search of progress. while some of these dreams turned into nightmares, their ambitious and often uncompromising nature was widely seized as a model for other cities.
view of gallery entry
in response, the display, curated by alexander eisenschmidt and jonathan mekinda, simultaneously explores the attitudes that made the municipality, while offering views of possible futures; as such, it revives chicago’s constructive potential and aims to spark a renewed boldness to engage the city today. the work builds on the premise of the book ‘chicagoisms: the city as catalyst for architectural speculation,’ which the duo edited in 2013. the show has been designed by eisenschmidt in collaboration with graphic designer matthew wizinsky. contributions in the form of models and mini-manifestos come from bureau spectacular, dogma, MVRDV, organization for permanent modernity, port A+U, sam jacob studio, sean lally/weathers, urbanlab, and WW.
MVRDV project ‘pig city’ that shows pig towers dotting the urban landscape
dogma project ‘after hilberseimer’ revisits and updates hilberseimer’s proposal for marquette park
organization for permanent modernity project ‘big-box-burb’ proposing an urban model built on suburban rules of development
port A+U project ‘the big shift’ expands chicago into the lake by moving main infrastructure
sam jacob studio project ‘spolia tribuna’ recombines existing architectures
sean lally/weathers project ‘energy fields’ nurtures energy as a new building material
urbanlab project ‘great lakes aqueduct’ gives infrastructure form and houses public amenities
WW project ‘I object!’ argues for an architectural object that occupies an entire block
bureau spectacular project ‘planes of misfits’ reforms the urban grid into three-dimensional taxonomies