Associate Professor T.F. Tierney

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  Fall 2017

Making New History: The Chicago Biennial is an architectural theory seminar that explores specific examples of multi-directional transactions: artists adopting architectural means on the one hand [James Turell or Donald Judd], and architects adopting artistic strategies on the other [Gordon Matta Clark or Herzog & de Meuron]. In particular, we discuss and debate recent cultural critiques in order to better understand  the transposition of strategies from architecture to art – through installations at the Chicago Architecture Biennale.  For example, 2015 featured works by Bjarke Ingels’ BIG, Gramazio Kohler’s research ETH Zurich, MOS Architects, Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular, John Rohan, Amanda Williams, Lateral Office, Studio Gang, and SO-IL among others.


While architects and artists share common affinities, their education and training differs in significant ways. However, these differences have not kept creative individuals from joining and crossing over into territory claimed by others. Taking Clement Greenberg’s position as a starting point, we consider subsequent theories by Rosalind Krauss and Hal Foster — “the expanded field” and “art & architecture complex” respectively. In class discussions and excursions we ask such questions as, Can there be architecture without buildings?   Can other media communicate architectural ideas?   This seminar interrogates those questions and others considering the construction, experience, and representation of space. It is, according to architectural historian and curator Joseph Becker, “an attempt to expand our general interpretation of architectural ideas, with a focus on an array of projects by both artists and architects that redefine the relationships between invisible and visible, figure and ground, finite and infinite.”  Students’ active participation in the Making New History: Chicago Biennale  serves as a leaping-off point for further investigation and analysis on the intersections between art and architecture practice and the abstract concept of “space” as a subject.