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Chicago Architecture Biennial 2021: The Available City

Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial began in 2014 as an international exhibition of architectural ideas, projects, and displays. This year’s theme, “The Available City” explores Chicago’s vacant spaces and how to transform these spaces into areas of communal collaboration and creativity. 

The Biennial brings together creators from around Chicago, the country, and the globe to run workshops and display their work at gallery spaces and virtually throughout the city. Programming will be available to all interested in participating. Here is your guide to this year’s Biennial. 

The Available City 

This year’s biennial theme, The Available City, serves as a framework for collaborative and community-led approaches to design that transform vacant urban spaces. The goal is to include local residents in the transformation of these spaces through workshops and programming while also inviting critical conversations on how design can foster collective engagement in urban spaces. 

The Contributors

Thirty-five contributors based in Chicago and globally will lead workshops and contribute their work to the biennial. Contributors range from collectives working to restore abandoned historical buildings to design collectives to educators. Each contributor focuses their work on connecting with architecture and design in some way, shape or form. 

Local contributors include Englewood Nature Trail, Ania Jaworska, The Bittertang Farm, Alexander Eisenschmidt, Borderless Studio, PORT, in care of Black women, ProjectHOOD, and Central Park Theater Restoration Committee

Contributors from around the United States and the globe include Ana Miljački representing the Critical Broadcasting Lab at MIT, Atelier Bow-Wow, Christophe Hutin Architecture, Departamento del Distrito, Hood Design Studio, Jill Desimini, Matri-Archi(tecture), Outpost Office, and Riff Studio, LLC among numerous others.


While the biennial officially takes place September, 17, 2021, virtual public programming begins in the month of July. Partner programs including Dan Peterman’s Sulfur Cycle exhibit at the MCA showing through March 2022 and community garden gatherings occurred throughout the summer.

Student Competitions 

Since 2015, the Chicago Architecture Biennial has hosted competitions for middle and high school students to encourage exploration in design and shared spaces. Students are invited to submit works from the design, humanities, visual arts, and STEM fields that address architecture and the built environment. This year’s student competition theme will be announced in September.