Youth Engagement


The Chicago Architecture Biennial provides free, educational and creative programming to learners of all ages as a way to promote active exploration of the built environment and empower audiences to see architecture and design as tools for change.

CAB's youth programming aims to: Facilitate meaningful and ongoing engagements with students, schools, community organizations, universities, museums, and other cultural institutions; Encourage connections between learners’ lived experiences and CAB content; Reach students from populations historically underrepresented in architecture, and; Provide opportunities for co-learning across generations and disciplines. 

2021 Programs

Youth programs organized around the 2021 edition, The Available City, highlights themes of equity, sustainability, and community-based design. Programs provide opportunities for active engagement with key issues through the lens of architecture, design, and urbanism and encourage youth and family audiences to reimagine their communities and city, with a specific focus on unused spaces including vacant city-owned lots.

Family Programs

Family-friendly activities hosted at CAB project and community partner sites will engage families with young children in hands-on activities. A series of virtual, interactive programs for family audiences created by Chicago Mobile Makers and Could Be Architecture will be released bi-weekly online beginning in September. 

Visit our programs page for details about upcoming youth and family programming.

Curriculum Toolkit + Teacher Trainings

A standards-aligned curriculum resource for grades 2-12 will provide both classroom teachers as well as out-of-school educators and caregivers with resources and activities to bring architecture and design learning to students.

The toolkit (available here in late October) will be supplemented by a series of facilitated teacher trainings hosted in November.


The Student Ideas Competition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial encourages middle and high school students to share their ideas for how design can play a role in creating shared spaces and shaping communities. The fall 2021 bp Student Ideas Competition is accepting submissions now through December 6, 2021.

Visit our competition page for complete details, to submit a projects, and to see projects from past competition winners.

Youth Council

CAB’s Youth Council engages youth voices in shaping both our organization and the larger cultural and architecture and design landscapes of the city while providing personal and professional mentorship to teens. The inaugural session of our Youth Council began in October with a group of 9th-12th grade students.

Youth Studios

More than 20 Youth Studios will be offered this fall together with youth-serving community organizations across Chicago. Youth Studios bring high school students together with design professionals to actively explore architecture and design in relation to questions or topics facing them and their communities with the goals of exposing young people to architecture and design; promoting civic engagement; and supporting college and career readiness.

Virtual Field Trips

An engaging and interactive virtual field trip experience will be available through the platform Streamable as well as on demand through the CAB website. Field trips for grades 2-12 will take students on a tour of several Biennial sites, prompt questions and conversation, and encourage participants to think about how they can shape their communities.

Let us know if you’re interested by completing a virtual field trip interest form.


Are you an organization, school, or a caregiver or teacher looking for ways to engage young people in conversations about how they can play a role in shaping our cities and world through architecture and design?

Join our Learning & Engagement mailing list here.

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