The Institute for Urban Design will organize the U.S. exhibition for the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale. The exhibit, “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good,” will focus on new strategies in public design, from urban farms to crowdsourced planning.
Cathy Lang Ho, a New York–based writer and contributing editor for ARCHITECT magazine, will serve as the commissioner for the U.S. pavilion. She will curate the U.S. exhibition with ARCHITECT editor-in-chief Ned Cramer, Assoc. AIA.
Drawing from the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and engineering—but also social media and other diverse concerns—the exhibit will map the substantive ways in which architectural production takes the form of a highly visible engagement with the public realm.
“Spontaneous Interventions reflects one of the more creative and affirmative responses to the current economic and social climate in the United States,” Ho says. “Architects are striving more than ever to reassert their relevance. With the slow-down of actual architectural production, we are seeing some of the nation’s most thoughtful, original practices pursuing personal projects that are motivated by not only the urge to create, but a heightened social and political awareness and a desire to serve.”
David van der Leer, assistant curator of architecture and urban studies at the Guggenheim Museum, will assist Cramer and Ho as curatorial strategist. Other members of the U.S. curatorial advisory committee include Museum of Modern Art senior design curator Paola Antonelli, Art Institute of Chicago architecture and design curator Zoe Ryan, Institute for Urban Design executive director Anne Guiney, and principal and critic Michael Sorkin.
“The trend is fascinating because it shows architects assuming an assortment of roles—entrepreneur, community organizer, sociologist, social worker, artist, renegade, and so on,” Cramer says. “Ultimately, these works reaffirm architecture as an integrated practice capable of solving problems of all types and scales.”
Cramer and Ho will launch a blog at the Institute for Urban Design’s website to allow designers to submit their work for consideration in the biennale exhibition. Based in New York, the Institute for Urban Design works as a think tank and advocacy group to expand the public debate on architecture and design within the modern city.
More than 170,000 visitors attended the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale—an increase in attendance of 31 percent from 2008. The 2010 biennale saw more than 50 countries participate, with 20 events organized around Venice as extensions of the fair.