Founded in 1997, the Chicago-based firm Studio Gang Architects—led by Jeanne Gang and Mark Schendel—has become known for deftly bridging architectural theory and practice. The thirteen projects presented in this exhibition illustrate the diversity of SGA’s practice and demonstrate how its tailored approach of privileging research as a way to build a strategic and informed foundation for design has become its trademark. The firm prides itself on looking outside of architecture for tools to foster rigorous dialogue and further the disciple. Rather than trying to become experts in everything, the members of SGA have become masterful in developing strong teams of advisors, from ecologists to engineers, from landscape architects to artists, with whom they then work to ensure that their outcomes are not rigid or fixed but grounded by context and fully realizable.
The featured projects are grouped into four themes—Building Nature; Building Community; Building Density; and Building Performance. Whether studying the ecological imperatives of a series of new boathouses along the Chicago River or the community impact of the Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois, SGA is skilled at identifying the essential connections between a project and its site. The first gallery presents the continuum of ideas and material explorations that have defined SGA’s practice, while the workshop setting of the second gallery invites visitors to explore the firm’s hands-on process with an array of samples, full-scale fragments of projects, drawing sets, and study models.
Architecture is by its nature the process of building—from ideas to realized designs. The defining quality of SGA’s work is its continuous interweaving and accumulation of insight and knowledge from one project to the next. Now more than thirty people strong, SGA is a practice on the verge, moving in exciting new directions and resolute in its determination to continue building.
Zoë Ryan, John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design, and Karen Kice, Neville Bryan Assistant Curator, Department of Architecture and Design
This exhibition will run through February 24, 2013.
This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand, Antheus Capital, LLC, the Arcus Foundation, Magellan Development Group, James McHugh Construction Co., the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Architecture & Design Society of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.
Annual support is provided by the Exhibitions Trust: Goldman Sachs, Kenneth and Anne Griffin, Thomas and Margot Pritzker, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, the Trott Family Foundation, and the Woman’s Board of the Art Institute of Chicago.
I was only able to take a few detail shots of the exhibit, which had some awesome redlined drawings, really shows their process.