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Major exhibition features computer animation, diagrams, plans, and models by Studio Gang Architects
Exhibition Design Planning Meeting in Studio Gang Architects Model Shop. Courtesy of Studio Gang Architects.

CHICAGO, IL.- The Art Institute of Chicago announces an innovative presentation of the work of Studio Gang Architects, led by founder and principal, Jeanne Gang. MacArthur Fellow Gang and her team of 40 architects, designers, and thinkers have produced some of the most inventive and award-winning architecture today. Featured not as a survey or retrospective, the projects of Studio Gang Architects (SGA) are showcased in an engaging workshop-like environment that reveals the practice’s creative processes as they seek to answer pressing contemporary issues through architecture. The exhibition is also accompanied by “Archi-Salons,” conversations with leading architects and planners engaged with themes central to SGA’s practice. Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects—on view from September 24, 2012–February 24, 2013 in the Modern Wing’s Architecture and Design Galleries (G283–285)—features over a dozen projects framed around four major issues facing contemporary architecture: its relationship to nature, questions of density, building community, and architecture as performance.

Founded in 1997, Chicago-based Studio Gang Architects has already established itself as one of the premier architectural firms working today. Best known for Aqua Tower, the undulating, 82-story mixed use high-rise in downtown Chicago, SGA is also distinguished by the great diversity of its work, which includes the Hyderabad O2, a high-rise community in Hyderabad, India; an ecological revitalization project for Lincoln Park Zoo’s South Pond in Chicago; and Harbor Knot, a concert venue, maritime museum, and public park designed for Kaohsiung, Taiwan. All of these projects— which reflect the wide range of today’s built environment—are marked by an open-minded practice committed to research and experimentation with materials and technologies. Visitors will be able to see into SGA's creative process and how the group tackles issues that lie locally (site, culture, people) and resound globally (density, climate, sustainability).

The installation—designed by SGA in collaboration with Zoë Ryan, the Art Institute’s John H. Bryan Chair and Curator, and Karen Kice, Neville Bryan Assistant Curator, both in the Department of Architecture and Design—consists of two interrelated parts. The first functions as a gallery with projects illustrated through a range of materials from sketchbooks and models to photographs, plans, and other drawings. This space features a special series of installations, also designed by SGA, dedicated to the studio’s material research and formal explorations.

The second section of the exhibition replicates a workshop, complete with a large worktable, pin-up boards, full-scale mock-ups, and material samples. This space is a key component of the presentation and serves as the location for two Archi-Salons—public programs that further connect and place the work in the exhibition within the larger field of architectural discourse. The first Archi-Salon will be held on October 6 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and will be led by Clare Lyster, assistant professor at University of Illinois-Chicago’s School of Architecture and founding principal of CLUAA (Clare Lyster Urbanism and Architecture). This salon will focus on architecture’s external influences, such as transportation networks.

The second Archi-Salon, to be held on November 17 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and led by Iker Gil, an architect, urban designer, and director of MAS Studio, will explore issues internal to architecture, such as context, materiality, and program. These conversations will be inspired by Studio Gang’s work but ultimately address larger issues in the field of contemporary architecture. In addition, members of Studio Gang will be on site throughout the run of the exhibition to give tours, encourage dialogue, and promote greater understanding of the firm’s process-based work.

Through the installation design and public programs, this exhibition presents the research-based, explorative nature of one of today’s most inventive practices. Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects brings contemporary architecture to life, showing the full lifespan of the creative architectural process—how an idea becomes a building.

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