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The 3rd Chicago Architecture Biennial 2015

September 21-October 13, 2015

Italy's Iconic Architect Alessandro Mendini
An Exhibition Commemorating the 2014 European Prize for Architecture Given to Italy’s Famed Contemporary Architect

As an architect, philosopher, architectural theorist, visionary, and design practitioner, the influence of Alessandro Mendini in contemporary architecture spans close to half a century.
In 2014, Mendini was named the 2014 Laureate for the prestigious European Prize for Architecture
The European Prize for Architecture is given every year as a collaborative effort between The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design.
The European Prize is awarded to those rare architects who have demonstrated the highest standard of public design and have significant contributed to humanity and to the built environment through the highest art of architecture.
The work exhibited ranges from iconic objects, furnishings, interiors, paintings and installations to architecture and urban planning, and also includes significant theoretical work, both with the famous Studio Alchimia and with his brother Francesco, an architect, with whom he founded Atelier Mendini in 1989. “Alessandro Mendini,” states Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, Museum President of the Chicago Athenaeum, “is one of the rare, most iconic architects and architectural minds in the history of art and architecture and clearly within the profound ranks of Leonardo Da Vinci, Palladio, Alberti, and Ledoux.  His philosophic thinking is more than original. He has pushed concept beyond the perimeters of the inventive, relentlessly searching, in a most non-compromising way, for the most essential design idea.  And the results center on the most visionary and far-reaching of our times. In an era where architectural ideas are copied and duplicated worldwide faster than ‘viral,’ Mendini and his works remain singular, prophetic, and original with the unique finger print of nothing less than a genius architect.”


“Not since Frank Lloyd Wright,” continues Narkiewicz-Laine, “has the world seen a more theory-driven and profound-thinking architect than Mendini.”
On view are many of his architecture projects in Italy including: Alessi Offices and Factory (Two Extensions of the Factory at Crusinallo), Omegna, (Italy) 1993; Swimming and Sports Centre, Trieste (Italy), 2004; Naples Metro System – Santa Rosa/Materdei/Università stations, Naples (Italy), 2000-2009; Town Hall, Naples (Italy), 1999; Byblos Art Hotel-Villa Amistà, Verona (Italy), 2005; Trend Group’s offices in Vicenza (Villa Alle Scalette) 2005; Bovisa Tech District in Milan, Italy; Reorganisation and Street Furnishings for the Seaside Promenade in Catanzaro, Catanzaro (Italy); Complex in Via della Bicchieraia (including the Municipal Theatre, Teatro Comunale Aretino), Arezzo (Italy), 1997;La Casa della Felicità" for Alberto Alessi (“The House of Happiness”) Crusinallo (Italy), 1980-1988; Clock Tower, Gibellina (Italy), 1987; and Ambra Dolce Design Gallery, Milan, (Italy), 1993.
Outside of Italy, Mendini designed Torre Paradiso, Hiroshima (Japan), 1988; Groninger Museum, Groningen (The Netherlands), 1988-1994; Dinosaur at Hukui - Dinosaur Museum, Katsuyama (Japan), 2000; Posco, Seoul (Korea), 2013; Triennale di Milano – Branch in Incheon (Korea), 2009; Busstop Hannover – Steintor Stop, Hannover (Germany), 1992; Madsack Publishing Company Headquarters, Hannover (Germany); Galleria Mendini, Lörrach (Germany), 2004; and numerous other buildings in Europe, the USA and Asia.
Among his numerous architectural designs, the Groninger Museum and the Paradise Tower in Hiroshima are the most outstanding. With both buildings, the typical Mendini teamwork is clearly visible: the projects are realised not alone, but rather in co-operation with the most varied guest-architects. 
For decades, Alessandro Mendini has played the most pivotal role in the development of contemporary Italian design, mostly as publisher of the magazines Casabella (1970-1976), Modo  (1979-1985), Domus (1980-1985 and 2010-2011), and Ollo (1988).  For many years following his architectural studies, Mendini was the principal theoretician of the Italian avant-garde design and its most important trend-setter.
In 1976, he was among the first members of the legendary Studio Alchimia, founded by Alessandro Guerriero.  Studio Alchima was a gallery for experimental work, not constrained creatively by industrial production and mocked the scientific rational behind Modernism.  Mendini became the movement’s leading exponent and L’enfant terrible, together with Ettore Sottsass, Andrea Branzi, Paola Navone, and Michele De Lucchi.  During this period, he designed furniture that revolutionized the image of Italian design and questioned the position of the until then undisputed “Bella Design” from Italy. As a result, the bourgeois categories of Good Design and kitsch were challenged and reversed.
Mendini has also worked as a design consultant for many of the world’s leading manufacturers and design brands, including Alessi, Royal Philips B.V., Cartier, Hermés, Venini, Swarovski, Swatch, and Bisazza.
His collabortion with Alessi’s Dream Factory is the most celebrated where the architect-designer has produced many of Alessi’s most iconic design products: 100% Make Up, 1992; Anna Box; 1996; Anna G. Corkscrew, 1994: Din-Don Champagne Flute, 2004; Anna Gong Folding Cake Stand, 2011; Moka Alessi, 2011; Parrot Corkscrew, 2014; and Pinocchio Corkscrew, 2013.

“He is the Father of Radical Design and Neo-Modern; first with the direction of the magazine Casabella, then by creating Modo magazine (where I first met him), and finally with Domus.  Alessandro Mendini has caused a real earthquake for cultural change.  He repositioned Italian design in the role of the international avant-garde for the mutations of taste. Through exhibitions, writings, drawings, the direction of magazines, and epic projects, he was able to concentrate around his innovative ideas as the most revolutionary mind of both architecture and design.”
“A personality like Mendini is rare in Italy, in Europe, and perhaps, in the world,” continues Donà.  “His persona is very current, very contemporary, and as extraordinary as is his humanity and the way he relates to others through his work.   The European Prize of Architecture awarded to Mendini is with great wisdom, insight, and vision.”

A catalogue on Alessando Mendini on the occasion of the European Prize for Architecture is authored by Claudia Donà and published by Metropolitan Arts Press and is available through The European Centre.

The world's top 100 Green Design Products and Architecture for 2015

Leading architects, designers, and manufacturers making their mark as green and sustainable

Consumer Product design, architecture, and urban planning projects from 24 countries top this year's list as "The Green 100."

This year’s winners of the Green GOOD DESIGN Awards, from a new campus plan in Egypt to a farming kindergarten in Vietnam, are redefining our future and proving that design can be a force for positive social change.

Organized annually by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, together with The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, Green GOOD DESIGN is the benchmark for new designs that foster a greater sense of ecological-based design, eco-innovation, conservation, green technologies, renewable energy, and sustainability to better the quality of both life and the environment.

Under the banner, "Build a Better World Now," hundreds of submissions were received this year by the world's most prestigious architecture and design firms and manufactures for the annual awards for the best new and innovative green design. 

The jury for awards was drawn from The European Centre's International Advisory Committee, which is composed of architecture and design professionals and leaders in manufacturing worldwide.

Founded in Chicago in 1950 by Eero Saarinen and Charles and Ray Eames, GOOD DESIGN remains the oldest and most established awards program for the most innovative and visionary new product design worldwide.  In 2007, a special edition of GREEN GOOD DESIGN was established to focus on the most important new international products and buildings and construction and planning projects that are leading the global way to a design that is fully sustainable and compatible with the highest standards of good environment.

"The products and buildings selected this year," states Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, Museum President of The Chicago Athenaeum, "respect environmental limits while fulfilling social wants and needs and have become an unparalleled platform for innovation on strategy, design, manufacturing and brand, offering massive opportunities to compete and to adapt to a rapidly evolving world.

"Green GOOD DESIGN is a call for massive social, political, technological, cultural, and behavioral transition," he continues.

For 2015, awarded buildings and products are from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Lithuania, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Vietnam, and the USA.

In this year's selection, 65 product designs were chosen in the categories of new lighting, packaging, transportation, housewares, floor covering, appliances, textiles, business machines, furniture, kitchen and bath fixtures, recycling bins, security devices, children's toys, medical equipment, construction materials, solar technology, car charging stations, and sports and recreational equipment.

Twenty-five (25) building and urban planning projects were also selected for new skyscrapers, cities, ecological farming, factories, expo pavilions, landscape parks, private residences, city squares, corporate headquarters, schools and campuses, playgrounds, multi-family dwellings, restaurants, museums, and commercial buildings.

BMW AG heads the list with three new generation mass-produced, zero-emission cars: BMW i3, BMW i8, and BWM C evolution.  All three models push the envelope for their revolutionary technology, fuel-efficiency, renewable materials, and aesthetic design.


Three designs selected have unparalleled humanistic value: Firefly Newborn Phototherapy by Design that Matters is the first device designed to treat newborn jaundice in rural Third World clinics worldwide; MDU (Mobile Dental Unit) designed by San Francisco architect, David Montalba, literally a dental office on wheels; and the Blooming Bamboo House by Vietnamese studio H&P Architects, designed as the first floating houses to withstand floods up to three meters. The "Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario" by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center was supported by the Clinton Global Initiative.

Two German-based green organizations were also sited and awarded: The Dusseldorf-based MTO Shahmaghsoudi, converts schools of Islamic Sufism worldwide .  The organization protects nature by an intelligent use of natural resources, including the use of solar energy to produce electricity; the use of rainwater for watering the gardens and toilet flushing; and the use of ecological cleaning products and also ecological and fair trade products for food.

The Berlin-based Little Sun was founded in 2012 by Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen to affect significant global change in sustainable energy access specifically, to get clean, affordable, solar light to the 1.2 billion people worldwide living without electricity in 'off-grid' areas.


"For these design and manufacturing businesses, sustainability means not only eco-efficiency, but also eco-effectiveness. Sustainability is absolutely about marketing and branding – when that means identifying market needs based on long-term prosperity and creating tribes of sustainable consumers. Sustainability needs to be about ‘greening'– because businesses and communities depend on healthy, productive ecosystems," continues Narkiewicz-Laine.

"Above all, we believe that for tomorrow's enduring businesses, sustainable design will be about making money by meeting real and fundamental human needs."

Commemorating the Five-Year Anniversary America’s Most Apocalyptic Environmental Disaster The British Petroleum Gulf Oil Spill

Five years have passed since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and leaving oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. From April 20th until July 15th, 2010, 200 million gallons of sticky, black crude oil spilled, affecting hundreds of miles of coastline and killing thousands of animals.
The Gulf oil spill was the worst of its kind in U.S. history. Although the spill wreaked havoc on the surrounding communities, tar balls have been removed from beaches, businesses got reparations, and things have, on the surface, returned to normal in many places.  The fear is that the oil slick has sunk to the surface of the ocean and will at any time raise its ugly head.
And despite Newsweek's assertion that “the BP disaster has been largely forgotten and “the media have moved on,” the ramifications of this landmark event are far from over.
Although BP already pled guilty to 14 federal criminal charges, including lying to Congress, and agreed to a $4.5 billion settlement, the civil trial could bring billions more in penalties if the company is held liable for damages stemming from the 2010 disaster.
Barring a settlement, BP could be fined $1,100 per barrel of spilled oil under the Clean Water Act. If the presiding federal judge decides the company acted with "gross negligence," these fines could jump to $4,300 per barrel. This means BP could be responsible for as much as $18 billion in fines.
BP was not only affected financially. The oil company has been working feverishly to restore their reputation, pouring over $100 million into advertising in the four months following the oil spill. They made adjustments to their executive roster, announced their dedication to cleaning up, and did their best to convince people the spill wasn’t as bad as they imagined.
Despite these efforts, the BP Gulf oil spill continues to go down in the history as one of the largest environmental disasters of our time.

For more information about the Chicago Architecture Biennial Exiibition program see our section"Exhibitions" or click here.

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