River Edge Ideas Lab Exhibition Design

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Program: Exhibition for 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial
Status: Complete, 2017
Website: www.chiriverlab.com

Nine world-class architectural firms, including Ross Barney Architects, were invited by the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development and the Metropolitan Planning Council to participate in the River Edge Ideas Lab. The goal: inform a new wave of riverfront investment. Three iconic sites along the Chicago River were selected, each representing a typical edge condition: a building edge, an open space edge, and a bridge edge.

Beyond an extensive digital presence, the Lab was housed in a physical venue designed by Ross Barney Architects for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. With a density of content, the studio transformed this 1600 square foot gallery into an airy experience of thirty-six design ideas.

Organized against an aerial backdrop of the Chicago River, a grid system was devised to organize the custom exhibition frames. Each of the three sites aligns with their respective geographic location on the aerial while each firm’s ideas are presented in the opposing direction. The result is an underlying presentation strategy that allows visitors to experience the exhibition content by site or design philosophy.

With this rare opportunity to discuss urban visions with the public, the exhibition also deployed interactive elements including a survey, bingo, and write-in wall. The feedback generated throughout the exhibition’s duration were cataloged by the City and will be memorialized in future plans for the River.