City Club of Chicago: Make New History – Discovering the Chicago Architecture Biennial

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Todd Palmer, Sharon Johnston, Mark Lee, Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen during the Make New History: Discovering the Chicago Architecture Biennial panel at the City Club of Chicago, November 15, 2017 (City Club of Chicago)

November 15, 2017

Make New History: Discovering the Chicago Architecture Biennial – moderated by Todd Palmer – Sarah Dunn, Martin Felsen, Sharon Johnston & Mark Lee

Chicago Architecture Biennial

Hear from internationally renowned architects about how Chicago’s Biennial is driving a global conversation about contemporary architecture. 2017 Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, joined by Chicago Participants Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen will discuss the importance of architecture in tackling urgent issues such as climate change and globalization in cities. This year’s theme “Make New History” highlights how the past informs modern day issues in architecture with the main exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center and nine supporting installations throughout the city. CAB is North America’s largest Biennial that continues Chicago’s global reputation as the epicenter of innovation. More than 140 participants from 20 countries are highlighted in the exhibition.

The Biennial is the outcome of the Chicago Cultural Plan, created in 2015 by Mayor Emmanuel and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee

Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee are the founding partners of the architecture firm Johnston Marklee. They have taught at major universities including the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Princeton University, the University of California, Los Angeles, the Technical University of Berlin, and ETH Zurich. They have held the Cullinan Chair at Rice University and the Frank Gehry Chair at the University of Toronto.

Since its establishment in 1998 in Los Angeles, Johnston Marklee has been recognized nationally and internationally with awards and publications. To date, the firm has been awarded over 30 major awards, and a book on its work, entitled House Is a House Is a House Is a House Is a House, was published by Birkhauser in 2016. This followed a monograph on the firm’s work, published in 2014 by 2G.

Projects undertaken by Johnston Marklee are diverse in scale and type, spanning seven countries throughout North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Current projects include the Menil Drawing Institute, on the campus of the Menil Collection, complete in September 2017; a renovation of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, complete in the summer of 2017; and the new UCLA Graduate Art Studios campus in Culver City, California.

The firm’s work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Menil Collection, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Architecture Museum of TU Munich. Johnston Marklee participated in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015.

Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen

UrbanLab is an architecture and urban design office founded by Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen. The office’s realized projects range in scale from small houses to urban districts. UrbanLab’s recent book titled “Bowling” speculates on ways to realign architecture and infrastructure with dwindling natural resources. The firm was awarded the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows Latrobe Prize, the History Channel’s “City of the Future” competition, and many design awards from the American Institute of Architects. UrbanLab’s work has been published and exhibited widely, including in the 2010 and the 2012 Venice Biennale and the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The office’s work is in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dunn is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Felsen is an associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Todd Palmer

Todd Palmer comes to the Chicago Architecture Biennial from the National Public Housing Museum, where he has served as Curator since 2013. He has held concurrent posts of Interim Director (2014) and Associate Director (2015–2016). At NPHM, Palmer spearheaded multifaceted initiatives to activate the museum’s future home, build a start-up organization’s institutional capacity, and pilot cultural programming intended to catalyze social change through education, exhibition, and convening. His efforts to raise the profile of the museum’s idealistic mission culminated in NPHM’s 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial Program Partnership exhibitions.

Palmer is deeply engaged as both a thought leader and a creative practitioner in the arts, culture, architecture, and the built environment and its mutual relationship to broad civic concerns. He draws upon two decades of experience in the design, curation, artistic activation, and programming of cultural institutions and significant historical and contemporary architectural sites. He served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts in 2016 and National Endowment for the Humanities in 2015, and is currently a board member on the Chicago Cultural Alliance Leadership Council. He has spoken widely in the US and abroad about his work in museum leadership, design, and the arts. His publications include works commissioned by The Avery Review for its Chicago Architecture Biennial edition (2015) and the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Harlemworld exhibit (2004).

Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in architectural history and theory from Princeton University and a Master of Architecture from Columbia University.

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