a pop-up exhibition, presented in partnership with the chicago architecture biennial, documents the work of SOM and the concepts and forms that stem from the firm’s integrated practice of engineering, art, and architecture. for more than 80 years, SOM — one of the world’s largest and most influential practices — has explored the poetics of structure through examination and experimentation. the exhibition, titled SOM: engineering x [art + architecture], features hand-drawn sketches, interactive sculpture, immersive video, and a lineup of more than 30 structural models.

all images by danielle campbell, unless otherwise stated
(main image by jochen stüber © AIT ArchitekturSalon)

 

 

the exhibition is hosted by mana contemporary, an art center set in a landmark building in chicago’s pilsen neighborhood, and remains on display until january 7, 2018 — coinciding with the 2017 chicago architecture biennial. the display surveys SOM’s long tradition of collaboration with visual artists and showcases models and drawings from projects created by pablo picasso, james turrell, jaume plensa, james carpenter, janet echelman, and iñigo manglano-ovalle.

chicago architecture biennial SOM
the display surveys SOM’s long tradition of collaboration with visual artists

 

 

the artist collaborations include ‘the chicago picasso’, a monumental sculpture conceived by pablo picasso and realized in collaboration with SOM. standing 15 meters (50 feet) in height, the pre-weathered steel sculpture was fabricated using the artist’s detailed guidelines and now stands in daley plaza as one of chicago’s most important cultural landmarks. another featured project is jaume plensa’s ‘world voices’, a metal art installation consisting of 114 slender stainless-steel tubes with 196 cymbals attached in various locations. providing structural design, SOM worked with plensa to achieve the natural reed-like style of the tubes.

chicago architecture biennial SOM
models from projects created by james turrell, jaume plensa, and janet echelman are on view

 

 

SOM also collaborated with james carpenter on ‘hope,’ a 27 meter (120 ft) tower that features hundreds of triangular perforated titanium-coated stainless steel panels attached to an open structure. SOM engineers worked closely with the artist to increase the perforations near the top to reduce wind loads. another project on view is ‘weather field no. 1’, a sculpture designed to engage with prevailing wind patterns. SOM worked closely with artist iñigo manglano-ovalle by providing structural engineering services for the piece, helping to translate the artistic vision into the details and specifications required to execute the sculpture.

chicago architecture biennial SOM
jaume plensa’s ‘world voices’ is a metal art installation consisting of 114 slender stainless-steel tubes

 

 

SOM also joined forces with james turrell to develop one of his trademark skyspaces. the structural engineering of houston’s ‘twilight epiphany’ allowed the artist and SOM to push the limits of a slender cantilever span to create the impression of a roof floating in air. the final project on view is janet echelman’s ‘dream catcher’, a 65-foot-tall net sculpture held in tension and suspended approximately 100 feet above ground between the two towers. SOM collaborated with echelman to develop a structural net to support the sculpture. SOM: engineering x [art + architecture] remains on view at mana contemporary chicago until january 7, 2018.

chicago architecture biennial SOM
the exhibition is hosted by mana contemporary in chicago’s pilsen neighborhood

chicago architecture biennial SOM
the show explores the concepts and forms that stem from the firm’s integrated practice

chicago architecture biennial SOM
hand-drawn sketches and interactive sculptures and models are on view

chicago architecture biennial SOM
a selection of models are presented at different scales

chicago architecture biennial SOM
a line-up highlights the varying scale of SOM’s portfolio

chicago architecture biennial SOM
the exhibition remains on view at mana contemporary chicago until january 7, 2018

 

 

chicago architecture biennial SOM

 

the second edition of the chicago architecture biennial (CAB) is the largest architecture and design exhibition in north america, showcasing the transformative global impact of creativity and innovation in these fields. this year’s biennial features over 141 practitioners from more than 20 countries addressing the 2017 theme ‘make new history.’ artistic directors sharon johnston and mark lee have selected architects and artists whose eye-opening creations will invite the public to explore how the latest architecture can and will make new history in places around the world.

 

CAB is hosted by the chicago department of cultural affairs and special events at the historic chicago cultural center. the ‘make new history’ exhibition extends to off-site locations and is amplified through six community anchor exhibitions in the neighborhoods and two special project sites — plus installations, performances, talks, films, and more hosted by over 100 local and global cultural partners.

 

the main exhibition is free and open to the public from september 16, 2017 through january 7, 2018.

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philip stevens I designboom

sep 13, 2017



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