The Chicago Cultural Center is serving as the main hub for the 2017 CAB, a season-long event for which Thornton Tomasetti is the principal engineering consultant. The biennial includes a tower exhibit, on display in the center’s Yates Gallery. Photos by Eric Wheeler.
With Thornton Tomasetti’s presence in Chicago going back decades, the firm has played a role in the design and renewal of many iconic buildings located throughout the city. Now, as the principal engineering consultant for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) – the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America – we got the chance to provide engineering support for the work of dozens of architects and designers all under one roof.
Senior Project Engineer Haider Himairi, left, and Associate Eric Wheeler at the Sept. 14 2017 CAB debut to press and professionals.
Taking place Sept. 16, 2017 to Jan. 7, 2018, this second edition of CAB features projects by more than 140 designers and architects from around the world as well as various free performances, lectures, public forums, and film screenings in the city and at nearby locations. The Chicago Cultural Center, a 120-year-old Beaux Arts structure at 78 E. Washington St., is serving as CAB’s main hub. Thornton Tomasetti conducted feasibility studies on the landmarked building and checked the loads applied on the structure by the exhibits.
Haider touring one of the biennial’s installations.
We peer reviewed the design and construction of 20 tower structures, each by a different architect commissioned by CAB. This year’s theme, “Make New History,” encouraged participants to create exhibits with consideration of the pioneering design of the past. In keeping with the historical theme, most of the towers are submissions for a retrospective contest to design the 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower. Reaching up to 23 feet, the towers are displayed throughout the Cultural Center, primarily in the Yates Gallery. We also provided feasibility studies and structural expertise for the construction of other installations, including both micro-architecture and large sculptural pieces, for various indoor and outdoor spaces at the Cultural Center.
Artistic directors Mark Lee and Sharon Johnston, left, of LA-based architecture firm Johnston Marklee and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke at the biennial’s kickoff.
The 2017 CAB is being led by artistic directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of Los Angeles-based architecture firm Johnston Marklee and hosted by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Several other venues, including the DePaul Art Museum and the DuSable Museum of African American History are serving as anchor sites for more exhibits during the three-month event. To learn more about 2017 CAB, click here.
The Monadnock Tower, top, by the Netherlands-based Monadnock architects sits in the center’s south stairwell and the DAM foam house.
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