Chicago, the city that gave us the world’s first skyscraper, is launching a global architecture exhibition starting next year. The Chicago Architecture Biennial will–at least according to city officials–be the biggest survey of international architecture in North America.
The Biennial will be held in odd-numbered years. The first, launching on October 1, 2015, will be directed by Sarah Herda, director of Chicago-based architecture organization the Graham Foundation and Joseph Grima, an architect and a writer who has previously curated the Istanbul design biennial. The Chicago Biennial’s organizers envision that architecture buffs will shuttle between the Chicago event and the long-running Venice Biennial, which is held in even-numbered years.
Whether the event will succeed in the manner of the much more established Venice Biennale–which draws more than 129,000 visitors to its architecture showcase–is yet to be determined, but Chicago does have the advantage of a being known as the birthplace of modern architecture. The city has a long history of architectural innovation, as a playground for pioneers like Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van deer Rohe.
“Obviously there’s an economic benefit in tourism and travel. Chicago will continue to be seen worldwide as an epicenter of modern architecture,” Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune. “The real question is: Why wasn’t Chicago doing this before?”