Chicago Architecture Biennial: TED Nerd-Out
Of the 100+ artists and architects converging on Chicago for North America’s first architecture biennial, a few have given TED talks (some of them more than one). Whether you’re looking for a TED distraction or wanting to dive into the biennial mood, here is a compilation of CAB TED-talking participants.
Iwan Baan, participant
Part of what makes the internationally noted architecture photographer distinctive is the way he treasures how people dig into the spaces they’re in; unlike much architectural representation which tend to be almost clinical in their treatments, his depictions are human, intentionally, deliciously messy. His talk, “Ingenious Homes in Unexpected Places,” is gentle storytelling about harsh realities, and yet the way he presents unexpected solutions from all around the world does more to highlight what we as humans have in common, rather than dwelling on regional and cultural differences.
Bjarke Ingels, participant
The “Yes Is More” architect is the Millennial of the architecture family. A digital native comfortable using any media to frame the narrative of his firm’s projects, his diagrams gently move, his renderings rise and swoop: every line and every pixel is called in in service of the story. Ingels’ two TED talks come relatively early in his career as an architect; since the most recent one he’s been awarded commissions by New York’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, Google, and (in)famously, for the second World Trade Center tower. In “Tales” and “Hedonistic Sustainability,” watch for revealing peeks at how a prolifically successful firm works in its nascent years.
Liz Diller, advisor
Most recently in the news for her firm’s Broad Museum in Los Angeles opening later this month, Diller is a principal in the noted New York practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The firm’s decades of theoretical work have given the practice an extraordinarily firm ideological grounding in the projects they take on. Like Ingels, she has two TED talks: “A Giant Bubble For Debate” and “The Blur Building and Other Tech-Empowered Architecture“. (If you’re pressed for time and only want to watch one, go with “Tech-Empowered Architecture.” You’ll miss an awkward [and confusingly physiologically incorrect] sex joke by taking a pass on the other one.)
Frank Gehry, advisor
In his second TED talk, Gehry poses the question: You work hard. You achieve critical and commercial success. You try to be a good person. So…then what? Where do you go from there? Since then, he’s answered the question at least one way; he’s an advisor to the L.A. River Revitalization nonprofit group, helping them design a workable solution to one of the city’s massive infrastructure issues. Well, two ways: serving on the architecture biennial advisory panel. At 45 minutes, his first talk is more of a lecture than a traditional TED talk, but it’s an interesting and accessible survey of his team’s projects from the pre-Bilbao years.
Theaster Gates, honorable mention
Gates is neither a participant nor an advisor to the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and yet his influence can be felt at multiple touchpoints relating to the event. A school at which he teaches, boards on which he sits, and a neighborhood he advises are all intimately involved with the biennial. I, for one, find it reassuring that someone so passionately involved in urban (re)vitalization and healthy communities is influencing the conversation on “The State of the Art of Architecture.”