Ah, Chicago—land of the Prairie School, birthplace of the skyscraper, and now, fittingly, home to the world’s largest display of contemporary architecture. Last week the Windy City rolled out the red carpet for the opening of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, which remains on view through January 3. Anchored at the historic Chicago Cultural Center, with satellite programming all across town, the fair showcases projects by more than 100 firms, each of them tasked with responding to some aspect or challenge of the field today. (Choreographing the mix of presentations are AD Innovators Sarah Herda and Joseph Grima, the fair’s artistic directors.) Opening weekend alone attracted 31,000 visitors, an audience that will grow and grow as architecture buffs make the pilgrimage from around the globe. Here are just eight of the many extraordinary things we saw.