Materials Decoded

In partnership with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, visual artist, trained architect and Art Center board member Amanda Williams invited two promising young architects to join the Jackman Goldwasser Residency program and exhibit their process in the gallery. The inaugural Architects-in-Residence, Ryan Gann and Karl Ochmanek, will present their research and document the transformation of common building materials to make new histories for public sites as part of this exploratory exhibition. Gann and Ochmanek will give their first public presentation to discuss their process and pedagogy on Sunday, November 12 from 2 – 3 p.m.

“The project will address the social, cultural and economic value of familiar building materials,” said Williams. “In keeping with the Chicago Architecture Biennial’s 2017 theme, ‘Make New History,’ we created a unique platform for these emerging designers to consider the legacy of bricks and glass as quintessentially ‘Chicagoan’ materials with loaded histories.” Architectural objects on display in the exhibition will evolve and rotate out as the research into materials progresses throughout the run of the exhibition.

  • September 10, 2017 – January 7, 2018
  • Gallery 5

Sponsors and Special Partners of the 2017 Chicago Architectural Biennial

The 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial is presented in partnership with the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and funded through private donations with lead support from SC Johnson, Presenting Sponsor; BP, Founding Sponsor; Marriot, Hotel Sponsor; and philanthropic support from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Image courtesy of A Way, Away Instagram (@awayawaystl), Design-build project by Amanda Williams & Andres L. Hernandez

Each architect chose one material to study in depth over the course of 12 weeks. Gann’s work will focus on the most ubiquitous construction material: brick. Motivated by the words of Louis Kahn, who said that “even a brick wants to be something,” Gann’s process activates the five senses to decode the physicality, construction methodology, aesthetics and future potentials of this popularized modular unit.

Ochmanek aims to rethink the potential of sheet glass through controlled fissuring, heat and cutting. “When a panel is cut to size for a specific purpose, we provide a channel along which it can fracture, allowing for it to have a path of least resistance,” according to Ochmanek. The technological, formal and social implications of broken glass in the contemporary built environment, as seen through Ochmanek’s project, become a metaphor for the tension between a perceived freedom in American society and the violence that results when breaking the system or status quo.

The architects will conduct their materials lab from the Hyde Park Art Center’s Reva and David Logan Studio and feature select developments in Gallery 5. The studio will be open to the public to witness the process of developing new ideas in dissecting, analyzing, reassembling and repurposing materials. This exhibition will remain on display through the duration of the Architecture Biennial and provide a South Side platform to highlight emerging practices in art, architecture and design. Hyde Park Art Center is proud to be an anchor site for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, which generously supports Materials Decoded.

About Amanda Williams

Visual artist and trained architect Amanda Williams will run an IIT Undergraduate Studio class addressing the social, cultural and economic value of the materials commonly and uncommonly use to create buildings. The class will conduct their materials lab from the Art Center’s Reva and David Logan Studio and feature selected developments made in the class in Gallery 5.  The architectural objects in the exhibition will evolve and rotate as the research into materials digs deeper throughout the run of the show.

Studio 2 will host the architects-in residence and will be open to the public to witness the process of developing new ideas in repurposing materials. Here, the students will research materials and explore alternative uses for brick remnants as well as create viable materials to replace or repair brick. As a result, the show will have a pedagogical component that presents architecture, and even existing buildings and materials, as an evolving field and arena of thought. This exhibition will run the duration of the Architecture Biennial and provide a South Side platform to highlight emerging practices in art, architecture and design.

About Ryan Gann & Karl Ochmanek

Ryan Gann works at the cross-section of architecture and urbanism. As a designer at Ross Barney Architects, he has collaborated on some of the studio’s most ambitious civic projects. These design investigations have allowed him to work with communities across Chicago and the world, investigating the role public space plays in everyday life. Recent projects include many of the studio’s river-centric interventions including the “Great Rivers Chicago” vision, “Ass(et) Creek” and the “River Edge Ideas Lab,” an initiative of the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development and the Metropolitan Planning Council. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

A recipient of the Schiff Foundation Fellowship, his design ideas have been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Karl Ochmanek is a trained architect whose work deals with themes surrounding the ordinary methods of dissecting and reframing what we know to gain further appreciation for everyday objects, sights and routines. Rather than seeking the extremes of beauty, he employs acute observation to gain a deeper appreciation for all aspects of life through the details. He earned a Bachelor of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology and is currently developing a portfolio of photographic work and architectural sketchbooks to enhance his practice.

About the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial

The 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will be open to the public and on view from September 16, 2017-January 7, 2018. Press and professional previews will take place September 14 and 15. The opening of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will align with the sixth annual EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, which will run September 13-17 at Navy Pier. The hub of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will once again be the Chicago Cultural Center, located in downtown Chicago.

The manifestation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision for a major international architectural event and an outcome of the comprehensive cultural plan developed by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events under the leadership of Michelle T. Boone, the inaugural 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial was presented through the support of BP, and in partnership with the City of Chicago and the Graham Foundation. Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda, Co-Artistic Directors, curated the 2015 Chicago Architectural Biennial, entitled “The State of the Art of Architecture.”

The Chicago Architectural Biennial’s mission is to provide a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience. Through its constellation of exhibitions, full-scale installations and programming, the Chicago Architectural Biennial invites the public to engage with and think about architecture in new and unexpected ways, and to take part in a global discussion on the future of the field.

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