• The Available City, 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial
    David Brown
    Artistic Director
    Chicago Architecture Biennial

A vacant lot in North Lawndale. Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial/Nathan Keay, 2020

Opening September 2021, the fourth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB), The Available City, presents free, public programming both virtually and at sites in neighborhoods across Chicago. Through a timely and responsive global platform, this edition creates opportunities for conversations about the intersection of architecture and design and such critical issues as health, sustainability, equity, and racial justice. The Available City imagines new and exciting possibilities for activating spaces throughout the city, expanding access to architecture and design, and engaging new voices.

A concept that was incubated during the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015, 2021 CAB Artistic Director David Brown’s long-term body of research forming the basis for The Available City began with an inventory of vacant city-owned lots across Chicago—currently numbering more than 10,000 sites concentrated on the city’s South and West Sides. Over more than a decade of work, this research grew into an ongoing urban design proposal that connects community residents, architects, and designers to work together to create spaces reflecting the needs of local neighborhoods. The 2021 CAB presentation explores the framework of The Available City on a global platform, engaging both local and international projects and practices that reflect new concepts for shared space and collective agency in the city.

David Brown, 2021 Chicago Artitecture Bienial Artistic Director, 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.

The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating an international forum on architecture and urbanism. Through a diverse program including exhibitions, commissions, publications, workshops, performances, and more, CAB advances architectural innovation and thinking by engaging practitioners, students, and the public to reimagine the built world both globally and locally. CAB is committed to highlighting a future for architecture that is community-driven, sustainable, and equitable.