Chicago isn’t holding back for its first Architecture Biennial, titled The State of the Art of Architecture, which will take over the city for three months starting this weekend. Modeled after the Venice Biennale and organized by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Graham Foundation, the behemoth event is like the Olympics for architecture. It's an international spectacle of bravura meant to flaunt the city's commitment to pushing the envelope.With 100-plus architects participating and nearly as many events taking place across the grid, the event is as overwhelming as it is exciting. So, consider this your short list to the opening weekend.  

The Hub of the Action

Opens Saturday, October 3 at 9 a.m.

Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center is ground zero for the Biennial, and the building is stuffed, from galleries to stairwells, with curated architectural models, interactive designs, mapping experiments, and more. For details on some of the exhibits, see the 10 Most Anticipated Events from the Fall Preview.

Opening Receptions

October 2

The Chicago Design Museum opens an exhibit dedicated to contemporary Irish architecture. 108 N. State. 6:30 to 10 p.m.

October 3

Stony Island Arts Bank hosts its public opening party for Theaster Gates’s Rebuild Foundation. 6760 S. Stony Island. 5 to 8 p.m.

October 4

Chicago Artists’ Studios brings together an exhibition of architects, painters, photographers, ceramicists, and business leaders. 2223 W. Hubbard.

Richard Meier’s retrospective of models, dioramas, and sketches opens at Mana Contemporary. 2233 S. Throop. 12 to 4 p.m.

For full list of gallery receptions, go here. 


October 2 and 3

Superpowers of Ten is a new performance artwork featuring oversized and hilarious props. Chicago Athletic Association. 12 S. Michigan. 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

October 2 and 3

Don’t miss We Know How to Order, the 15-minute drill performance from the South Shore Drill Team dedicated to architectural order like the grid in Federal Plaza. 219 S. Dearborn. 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. on October 2, 12:00 p.m. on October 3

October 3 and 4

Every House Has a Tour, the Chicago performance art group, use bodies to riff on bridges, at Comfort Station. 2579 N Milwaukee. 1 to 3 p.m.


October 3

A screening of the winners of the Look Up film challenge, including a conversation with the winners. Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theatre. 78 E. Washington. 3 to 4 p.m.