Stanley Tigerman, the Chicago architect whose 1977 conference, "The State of the Art of Architecture," became the namesake for the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, has issued a statement effusively praising the Biennial's execution.
Co-artistic directors of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Sarah Herda (director of the Graham Foundation, which hosted Tigerman's 1977 conference) and Joseph Grima, are using the Biennial to illustrate shifting tides in the profession, as architects seek to address multitudes of pressing contemporary issues through architecture, and subsequently diversify the idea of a "traditional" architect.
Tigerman's initial conference addressed the profession as it dealt with the collective hangover from modernism, and faced an existential crisis of sorts to retain a cohesive cultural and professional identity.
The Biennial opened on October 3, and Tigerman, in the below letter to the editor, expresses his satisfaction with its execution, his admiration for the participants' "optimism," and the pride it makes him feel as a Chicagoan.
To the Editor:
As someone who has actually been to the Venice Bienniale (of both Art and Architecture varieties) I am stunned, if not thrilled, at seeing the premiere Chicago Architecture Biennial. The Cultural Center never looked so good and the variety of scales of objects is nothing short of amazing. In high-ceilinged , large volume spaces, the large scales exhibited there look utterly splendid and in low-ceilinged, small volume spaces the appropriation of scaling down exhibits is equally mesmerizing. This is not to say that everything is wonderful but what is wonderful, is the energy that was apparent, to say nothing of the 3500 people there on a weekday today enjoying the stimuli of the Biennial.
I have never felt so good about being a native of this city and of its mayor’s and commissioner of cultural affairs’ commitment to engage Chicago, once again, to the heart and soul of architectural ideation. I am humbled to witness the work of the youngest generation, whose intellectual zest is only surpassed by their optimism. It is a great thing to wake up knowing that Chicago is once again in the vanguard and I for one will be forever grateful to Sarah Herda and Joseph Grima and in the leadership of the body politic, namely Rahm Emanuel and Michelle Boone, for their bold if not daring support as we make our way through the 21st century.
Some years back, when I first evinced support for the next generation of architects by exploiting the notion of “passing the baton”, I never frankly dreamed just how visionary they would be in actuality. My job is done because it is clear that this group has coalesced into a vital force as a collective change agent.