Learning Initiatives

Learning Initiatives at the Chicago Architecture Biennial provide free programming to students of all ages as a way to promote active exploration of the built environment and empower audiences to use architecture and design as tools for change. We aim to:

  • Facilitate meaningful and ongoing engagements with schools, community organizations, universities, museums, and other cultural institutions

  • Encourage connections between Biennial content and local topics and communities

  • Reach students from populations historically underrepresented in architecture; provide opportunities for co-learning between professionals and the general public; and engage with learners of all ages and from a diversity of perspectives

Current and Upcoming Opportunities

The educational program for the 2019 edition of the Biennial, ...and other such stories, is inspired by the themes of history, inclusivity, and alternate narratives central to the 2019 Biennial and a curatorial imperative for inclusivity and access. Learning programs prioritize active engagement towards a deeper understanding of the built environment as it relates to the spaces where young people live and learn.

The Biennial provides free programming for young people and families as well as resources for educators. A collaboration with the Chicago Architecture Center, Signature Education Partner since 2015, broadens our offerings for students and schools. Please stay in touch for updates and program registration. 

Youth Studios
Creative youth studios will run from July through December 2019. During these three-hour sessions, students will engage with the themes and topics of the 2019 edition through collaborative exploration, conversation, and creative production. Youth Studios are a space for young people to work alongside professionals and their peers as they create connections between local topics and experiences and the global conversations at the heart of the Biennial. Each studio will be hosted at a community partner site in neighborhoods across Chicago. Students interested in receiving information about Youth Studios should complete an Interest Form

Field Trips
Chicago Architecture Center Education Guides will lead 90-minute interactive tours of the Biennial’s primary exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center. Field trips for grades 5-12 will run Tuesday to Friday each week in October, November, and December. Free transportation by bus will be available to qualifying schools. Groups wishing to attend the Biennial for a self-guided tour will be met by a Biennial representative and will have access to educational materials. Field trip registration will open ahead of the 2019-2020 school year.  

Student Competitions
A fall competition presented with the Chicago Architecture Center and aligned with the 2019 edition will launch along with the Biennial in September. Annual competitions supported by BP America for middle and high school students encourage exploration of the built environment through design and also the humanities, visual and performing arts, and STEM fields. Winning entries are honored with prizes and displayed at the Chicago Cultural Center during the Chicago Architecture Biennial. For more information and updates, please visit bpcompetition.org

Interpretive Materials
Free materials and activity guides for young people and educators will encourage active exploration of the exhibition. Standards-aligned educator guides will highlight contributor projects and include classroom activites and resources. These materials will be available in the Biennial Learning Lab and online for free download. 

Teacher Trainings
Teacher trainings will familiarize K-12 and university educators with Biennial learning materials and additional opportunities for students. Registration for trainings will open ahead of the 2019-2020 school year. Trainings will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center on the following dates: 
Saturday, September 28, 2019 | 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Tuesday, October 1, 2019 | 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Chicago Architecture Center Teen Ambassador Program 
Through the Teen Ambassador Program, 30 Chicago Public Schools high school students will share their interpretations of the exhibits and their personal narratives with visitors to the Chicago Architecture Biennial on weekends and school holidays. They will encourage other young Chicagoans to become civically-engaged and earn service-learning hours towards high school graduation requirements. Students interested in receiving information about the Teen Ambassador Program should complete an Interest Form.

Community Festival Days
The Chicago Architecture Center will host two Community Festivals dates throughout the city and will provide hands-on activities for families with children ages 6-12 that explore the Chicago Architecture Biennial’s curatorial theme and exhibition. Check back soon for dates and locations.

School Partners Program
The Biennial will establish ongoing partnerships with a select number of Chicago Public Schools high schools in an effort to bring architecture and design learning to schools without these programs. School Partners will engage with the Biennial through co-creating learning opportunities, visits to the Biennial, participating in programs with Biennial community partners, and entering competitions. 

Stay in Touch

Are you an educator looking for ways to share the Biennial with your students both inside and outside of the classroom? Are you a student or parent looking for opportunities? Are you an organization interested in partnering with the Biennial around learning opportunities? Are you an individual interested in volunteering with students at the Biennial?

If so, please stay in touch. We'll share opportunities that maybe of interest to you!