The Available City

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is pleased to announce its fourth edition: The Available City. The 2021 Artistic Director is Chicago-based designer, researcher, and educator David Brown. The concept and title for the 2021 edition, The Available City, asks us to consider the impact collective space can have in cities today. Through a reinvented and responsive global platform, the Biennial will create opportunities for conversations about the intersection of architecture and design and such critical issues as health, sustainability, equity, and racial justice leading up to and throughout the run of the edition. The fourth edition of the Biennial will open in September of 2021 featuring free, public programming at sites in neighborhoods across Chicago and on digital platforms.

"Since I became Mayor, I made it my mission to uplift our historically underserved communities with resources and programs that help them thrive. That is why I am especially thrilled that the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial will be focused and grounded in our neighborhoods that can benefit from it the most. I look forward to seeing how the Biennial enriches our entire City by amplifying and showcasing innovative ideas in design, community building and creative placemaking.” —Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot

About David Brown, Artistic Director

David Brown is a designer, researcher, and educator based at the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Brown investigates non-hierarchical, flexible, and variable approaches to urban design. Brown’s work has been exhibited in the Venice Architecture Biennale (2012), the Chicago Cultural Center’s Expo 72 (2013), the Chicago Architecture Biennial (2015), and received a grant from the Graham Foundation in 2011. In 2006, Brown curated the exhibition Learning from North Lawndale: Past, Present + Future at the Chicago Architecture Foundation (now the Chicago Architecture Center). Brown’s writing includes the book Noise Orders: Jazz, Improvisation, and Architecture (University of Minnesota Press, 2006) and essays “Curious Mixtures” in Center 18: Music in Architecture—Architecture in Music (Center for American Architecture and Design, 2014, Michael Benedikt, ed.), “Lots Will Vary in The Available City” in The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (Oxford University Press, 2016, George Lewis and Ben Piekut, eds.), “The Available City” in the journal MAS Context, and “Futures We Could Have Today” in Flat Out. Brown has lectured on his work at Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies and the Politecno di Milano and has taught at Florida A&M University and Rice University.

Danish Arts Foundation Collaboration

The Danish Arts Foundation hosted an open call for the commission of a new, constructed design project in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago as the official Danish contribution to the 2021 edition. The winning project, Soil Lab, will include workshops and built elements grounded in bricks, a material with significance to both the Chicago and the Danish architectural vernacular. The commission reflects the DAF’s mission to highlight Danish architecture and design traditions on a global platform while also facilitating conversations about the role of the arts and design in shaping communities. The project also emphasizes global collaboration—between cultures, between disciplines, and between the winning design team and the local community in Chicago.

Read more about Soil Lab and the design team here

Read the full release announcing the winning project here


Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) will once again serve as the Biennial’s official Presenting Partner.

Over the coming months, CAB will continue to announce local and global partnerships and collaborations aligned with The Available City.


Read the full 2021 edition announcement here.

Selected Press:

Chicago Tribune 
Chicago Architecture Biennial will go on next year with new format and gritty subject matter: Finding creative uses for city’s vacant lots

The Architect's Newspaper
It's a Go, Folks Chicago Architecture Biennial confirms its fourth edition and announces 2021 director

Architectural Record
Chicago Architecture Biennial Announces 2021 Edition

WBEZ Chicago
Architecture Prof Offers A New Vision For Vacant Land On Chicago’s South And West Sides

Newcity Magazine
Finding The Available City: A Conversation with 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennal David Brown

The Architect's Newspaper
State of Architecture 2020 In Perspective: David Brown

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