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Learning Initiatives


Learning Initiatives at the Chicago Architecture Biennial provide free educational programming to learners of all ages as a way to promote active exploration of the built environment and empower audiences to view architecture and design as tools for change. We aim to:
–Facilitate meaningful and ongoing engagements with schools, community organizations, universities, museums, and other cultural institutions
–Encourage connections between Biennial content and local topics and communities
–Reach students from populations historically underrepresented in architecture; provide opportunities for co-learning between professionals and the general public; and engage with learners of all ages and from a diversity of perspectives 

Join our mailing list to stay in touch about learning opportunities that may be of interest to you!

Signature Education Partner

The Chicago Architecture Center returns in 2019 as the Biennial's Signature Education Partner, a role it has held in the previous two editions. Through this partnership, we are able to broaden the reach of our educational programming for youth and families and support educators in exploring the Biennial, both through visits to the Chicago Cultural Center and in their classrooms.

Visit the Chicago Architecture Center website for information on 2019 programming.

For Teachers

Teacher Trainings

Teacher trainings will familiarize 5th-12th grade educators with Biennial learning materials to be used at the Chicago Cultural Center and in classrooms as well as additional opportunities for students. Trainings will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Saturday, September 28, 2019 | 9:00am - 12:00pm
Tuesday, October 1, 2019 | 4:30pm - 7:30pm

Register Now!

Guided Field Trips

Chicago Architecture Center Education Guides will lead 90-minute interactive tours of the Biennial’s primary exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center. Field trips for grades 5-12 will run Tuesday to Friday each week in October, November, and December. Free transportation by bus will be available to qualifying schools.

Request a guided field trip here!

Self-Guided Visit

Groups wishing to attend the Biennial for a self-guided visit will be greeted by a Biennial representative for introduction to the space and the exhibit. Groups will also be supplied with educational materials for use at the Biennail and before and after your visit.  

Sign up for a self-guided visit here!

Educator's Guide

Free materials and activity guides for young people and educators will encourage active exploration of the exhibition. Standards-aligned educator guides will highlight contributor projects and include classroom activites and resources. Additional materials will include biographical information about contributors, a glossary, and take-home activities.

These materials will be available in the Biennial learning space and online for free download after opening.

School Partners Program

The Biennial holds ongoing partnerships with a select number of Chicago Public Schools high schools in an effort to bring architecture and design learning to schools without these programs. School Partners engage with the Biennial through co-creating learning opportunities, visits to the Biennial and partner sites, and entering competitions.

If you think your school would be a good fit for the School Partners Program, please email education@chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org

For Students

BP Student Ideas Competition

The Fall 2019 BP Student Ideas Competition will launch September 19 and runs through November 22. The competition, presented in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Center, asks young people to design sites for community dialogue. The competition is free to enter and open to middle and high school students across Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. This opportunity encourages exploration of the built environment through design and also the humanities, visual and performing arts, and STEM fields. Winning entries are honored with prizes and displayed at the Chicago Cultural Center during the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

For a complete calendar and submission details, please visit bpcompetition.org

Youth Studios

Youth Studios are a key component of Learning Initiatives at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. These three-hour sessions provide an opportunity for students across Chicago to engage with the themes and topics of the Biennial through collaborative exploration, conversation, and creative production. The studios are a space for young people to work alongside professionals and their peers as they create connections between local topics and experiences and the global conversations at the heart of the Biennial.
  • Youth Studios will serve high school students across the city between July and December 2019. Each studio is hosted by a community partner, expanding the Biennial's reach into neighborhoods across Chicago.
  • 2019 Youth Studio Partners:
  • archKIDecture
  • The Available City
  • BUILD, Inc. with LBBA Labs
  • Bustle 5K
  • Chicago Arts Partnership in Education
  • Chicago Mobile Makers
  • Design Museum of Chicago with Norman Teague
  • NEXT.cc Designopedia
  • Plant Chicago
  • Space Lab with DLR Group
  • Territory NFP

Teen Ambassador Program

Through the Chicago Architecture Center Teen Ambassador Program, 30 Chicago Public Schools high school students will share their interpretations of the exhibits and their personal narratives with visitors to the Chicago Architecture Biennial on weekends and school holidays. They will encourage other young Chicagoans to become civically-engaged and earn service-learning hours towards high school graduation requirements.

Please email education@chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org if you are interested in participating in the Teen Ambassador program.

Community Festival Days

Community Festivals will explore Biennial themes through hands-on creative explorations for children ages 6-12 at partner site locations. Drop in any time to learn about architecture and design while creating something unique!

October 5 | 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Garfield Park Conservatory

November 2 | 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Navy Pier Cultural Corner