U.S. Pavilion curators Mimi Zeiger, Niall Atkinson, and Ann Lui
Nancy Wong U.S. Pavilion curators Mimi Zeiger, Niall Atkinson, and Ann Lui

Today two Chicago institutions—the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and the University of Chicago—announced that they will be co-commissioners of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, which kicks off next May.

Project Projects

The pavilion's exhibition, entitled "Dimensions of Citizenship," will be curated by Niall Atkinson, an associate professor of architectural history at the University of Chicago; Ann Lui, AIA, a SAIC assistant professor and co-founder of Chicago-based Future Firm; and Mimi Zeiger, a Los Angeles–based editor, critic, educator, and curator (and ARCHITECT contributor). According to a press release, the exhibition "will grapple with the meaning of citizenship as a cluster of rights and responsibilities at the intersection of legal, political, economic, and societal affiliations."

"What an extraordinary opportunity this is to ask architects and architecture as a field to participate in today’s global conversation about citizenship—understood as a cluster of rights of responsibilities, but also as effective attachments," says Bill Brown, an exhibition project director and senior adviser to the provost for arts at the University of Chicago. "And all of us obviously know that built space has a lot to do with feelings of belonging and exclusion."

Built in 1930, the U.S. Pavilion in Venice was designed by American architects William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich. While details about the specific exhibitors have not yet been released, Zeiger explains that they are planning an "interdisciplinary approach" and "a research-based but not didactic exhibition," adding: "Don’t expect to walk into the pavilion and read a bunch of text.”

"By implying that citizenship has multiple dimensions, the theme is explicitly a critique of a limited understanding of architects' role in crafting citizenship through the establishment of boundaries that are inclusive or exclusive of belonging, either at the scale of a building or a scale of a nation," says Jonathan Solomon, AIA, an exhibition project director and the director of SAIC's department of architecture, interior architecture and designed objects. "Rather, we intend to open up a series of questions about contemporary citizenship and architecture and architects roles in it, and explore those roles through the work in contemporary American architecture."

The 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale runs from May 26 through Nov. 25, 2018.