The Chicago Athenaeum is an international museum of architecture and design, appropriately based in the world's first city of modern architecture and design Chicago. The Museum is dedicated to the Art of Design in all areas of the discipline: architecture, industrial and product design, graphics, landscape architecture, and urban planning. The Museum's mission is the advancement of public education about the value of Good Design - from the "spoon to the city" - and how design can positively impact the human environment.
As the United States only independent Museum of architecture and design, The Chicago Athenaeum has demonstrated leadership and innovation in bringing the subject of design and its impact on the quality of life before a national and international audience. At the same time, the Museum has expanded its mission and its international programs by presenting significant exhibitions on architecture and design to cities through the United States, as well as Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
The Museum is supported by its public, memberships, and by grants and sponsorships from corporations, foundations, and local and national government agencies.
The museum maintains collections dedicated to architecture and design, including the history of Chicago Architecture, the history of industrial design in Chicago (1900-1950), European and American furniture, Japanese graphics, the works of Anne Swainson, Bureau of Design, Montgomery Ward, the works of Ellen Manderfield, and the history of Good Design.
The Museum has a collection of ethnographic art as it relates to design.
The museum houses an archive of architecture and design photographs and drawings and books and publications on the same subject.
The museum has occasionally sponsored and hosted temporary exhibitions, which have reflected seminal ideas in architectural and design history.
• 1989 New Chicago Skyscrapers (Milan)
• 1989 Eliel and Eero Saarinen
• 1989 Green Architecture
• 1989 New Japanese Graphics
• 1990 Italian Rationalism
• 1991 Art of the Table
• 1991 Kitsch in America
• 1992 New Chicago Skyscrapers
• 1992 Compasso d’Oro
• 1992 New Chicago Furniture: Made in Chicago,
Made in Illinois, Salone del Mobile (Milan)
• 1992 Shoes for the Stars
• 1993 Seven Wonders of the World
• 1994 New Chicago Architecture
• 1994 Chicago International Architecture Biennial
• 1995 Frank Lloyd Wright from the Museum’s Collections
(Chicago, Milan, Gothenburg)
• 1995 New Design from Finland
• 1995 Kiki Kogelnick
• 1995 Hong Kong Architecture: The Aesthetics of Density
• 1996 Alessandro Mendini
• 1996 Delicious Architecture (Milan)
• 1996 Chicago International Architecture Biennial
• 1996 Art to Swatch (Chicago and Los Angeles)
• 1995 Denmark through Design
• 1995 Landmark Chicago
• 1996 New Design from Germany
• 1996 Chairs from the Museum’s Colllections (Spelling)
• 1996 New Design from Norway
• 1999 Anne Swainson: Montgomery Ward Bureau of Design
• 2000 Design from the 20th-Century
from the Museum’s Colllections Spelling)
• 2003 Children of Chernobyl
• 2004 New Japanese Graphics
from the Museum’s Colllections Spelling)
• 2007 Chicago Industrial Design
from the Museum’s Colllections Spelling)
• 2015 New Chicago Architecture
• 2015 New Architecture of Santiago Calatrava
• 2016 Réinventer Paris
• 2016 New Architecture of LAVA:
Laboratory for Visionary Architecture
• 2017 Europe 40 Under 40
• 2018 Architecture of Sergei Tchoban
• 2019 Sacred Threads: The Art of Navajo Textiles
• 2019 Architecture of Henning Larsen Architects
• 2020 Seventy Years of Good Design
• 2020 Karim Rashid
• Numerous Annual Exhibitions on Good Design
The museum has organized other traveling exhibitions: “New Chicago Skyscrapers at the Buenos Aires International Biennial of Architecture (1990), “New American Architecture” at the International Architecture Biennale São Paulo (1997), “Bjarke Ingels” in Madrid (2010), “New International Architecture” and “New Architecture of Graft Architekten” at the Buenos Aires International Biennial of Architecture (1992), “Architecture of TYIN Tegnestue” at the Istanbul Design Biennial (2012).
The Chicago Athenaeum’s International Sculpture Park is located at 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg, Illinois.
Sited on 20 acres of meadow and forest, the park features contemporary works of American and international sculptors from Greece, Norway, Germany, Finland, Poland, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland. The chosen art works fit the natural environment of the site. “Heavy Dog Kiss” by Dennis Oppenheim and “Vineland” by Norwegian artist, Jarle Rosseland, are the park’s most popular.
Annually the Chicago Athenaeum museum in collaboration with the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies organizes the Good Design, American Architecture Awards, International Architecture Awards, The American Prize for Design, The European Prize for Architecture, Europe 40 under 40; and since 2009, the Green Design Awards.
The trademarked Good Design and its awards program were founded in Chicago in 1950 at the Merchandise Mart by renowned architects Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., former director, Department of Industrial Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Each year, Good Design is juried by distinguished leaders in the design industry who select the awarded products and graphic designs and packaging.
Over recent decades, The Chicago Athenaeum has received applications for Good Design from thousands of designers and manufacturers from over 50 countries, premiering the latest in designs for new automobiles and transportation, robotics, electronics, airplanes and yachts, medical equipment, furniture, household appliances, lighting, items for the home and office, sports equipment, personal objects, graphics and packaging—all in pursuit of the valued Good Design logo to use in their marketing campaigns, advertising, websites, and publicity materials.
The Good Design logo, designed by Chicago designer, Mort Goldsholl in 1950 for the Merchandise Mart, is the Museum’s version of the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,” which is one of the world’s most recognized logotypes and widely coveted by global industry designers and manufacturers alike.
Over 40,000 Good Design Awards have been conferred to designers and manufactures from Vietnam to Austria, from Berlin to Hong Kong, from London to Beijing, from South Africa to Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom and the United States.
In 2009, The Chicago Athenaeum introduced a Green Good Design edition to the original historic 1950’s Good Design program to highlight sustainability and to encourage designers and manufacturers to find more environmentally sensible and sensitive solutions for green products and packaging.
Under the banner, “Build a Better World Now,” the Green edition of Good Design also honors people, institutions, governments, cities, states, countries, architects, landscape architects, urban planners, research, and new innovative technologies.
Recipients of Green Good Design include: The Kingdom of Sweden, The City of Madrid, City of Boston, the World Wildlife Fund, City of Portland, City of Amsterdam, City of Rome, City of St. Petersburg, the European Union, University of Pennsylvania, an Antarctic Belgium Polar Station, Heath Row Airport, Architecture for Humanity, University of California, as well as some of the world’s most important manufacturers and distinguished architects, urban planners, and industrial designers.
American Prize for Architecture
The American Prize for Architecture, also known as the Louis Sullivan Prize, were instituted in 1994 and are bestowed to an outstanding practitioner in the United States that has emblazoned a new direction in the history of American Architecture with talent, vision, and commitment and has demonstrated consistent contributions to humanity through the built environment and through the art of architecture.
Recipients of The American Prize for Architecture include:
Michael Graves (1994), Sir Norman Foster (1996), General Services Administration (Richard Feiner) (1997), Richard Meier(1998), Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects (2016) and Form4 Architecture (2017), James von Klemperer of Kohn Pedersen Fox (2018) and Arquitectonia (2019).
European Prize for Architecture
In 2010, the Museum established the European Prize for Architecture to continue and celebrate Europe’s ongoing contribution to world history and culture and to encourage our present generation of practitioners to embrace the true art of architecture together with its humanistic and social pursuits in order to make our European cities and nations true centers of advanced culture and civilization.
Recipients of The European Prize for Architecture include: Bjarke Ingels from Denmark (2010), Graft Architects from Germany (2011), TYIN Tegnestue from Norway (2012), Marco Casagrande from Finland (2013), Alessandro Mendini from Italy (2014), Santiago Calatrava from Spain/Switzerland (2015), Laboratory for Visionary Architecture from Germany (2016), Manuelle Gautrand from France (2017), Sergei Tchoban from Russia/Germany (2018), Henning Larsen Architects from Denmark (2019).
American Prize for Design
The American Prize for Design was established in 2016 within the context of the Good Design Awards.
The Prize is presented to a distinguished designer in the fields of industrial design, visual communication, and graphic design in terms of excellence and further innovation along with the contribution of design in the quality of everyday life.
Recipients include: Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz Chief Designer and Executive Vice President at Daimler AG (2016), Sir Norman Foster (2018), Flavio Mazoni (2019), and Karim Rashid (2020).
Europe 40 Under 40
Founded in 2008, Europe 40 Under 40 is an annual awards program that celebrates the next new talented generation of European architects and designers. The program is directed to support new and emerging design talents that will influence the near future of European design, thinking, and theory with the direct consequence of impacting future environments and future European and international cities. The key is to bring wider recognition to 40 of the most promising emerging professionals working in the European Union and other countries inside Europe, fostering and encouraging new talent and new creative thinking at the forefront of tomorrow's profession.
Europe 40 Under 40 is open to young, emerging European architects, landscape Architects, urban planners, and industrial designers who are citizens of the European Union or in the countries of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Russia, Turkey, Lichtenstein, Albania, Monaco, Croatia, Andorra, Serbia, Montenegro, Georgia, Bosnia- Hercegovina, Macedonia, Moldavia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Canary Islands, Faeroe Islands, and San Marino. A total of 47 European nations.
International Architecture Awards
The International Architecture Awards are awarded annually for new architecture, landscape architecture, interiors and urban planning projects. The award program was launched in 2005 by the Chicago Athenaeum, with the first awards handed out in 2006.
The Awards are not affiliated with any other organisation like the Royal Institute of British Architects or the American Institute of Architects.
The Program is open to all international architecture offices and U.S. firms with projects outside the United States. (U.S. submissions are judged annually for the American Architecture Award).
All submitted projects are to be designed by architects in their respective countries of origin or abroad three years prior to the award year. Categories include: skyscrapers, high rises, corporate offices and complexes, housing, schools, universities,institutions, museums,galleries, social housing, entertainment, libraries, restoration and renovations, restaurants, industrial buildings, private homes, sports and transportation buildings, infrastructure, energy facilities, civic and community buildings, expositions buildings, exhibits, religious buildings, public spaces, urban planning, and landscape architecture.
Every year a catalogue, Global Design + Urbanism, is printed, documenting The International Architecture Awards and published by Metropolitan Arts Press Ltd.
The International Architecture Awards® are a registered trademark of The Chicago Athenaeum.
American Architecture Awards
The American Prize for Architecture, also known as the Louis H. Sullivan Award, is bestowed to an outstanding practitioner in the United States that has emblazoned a new direction in the history of American Architecture with talent, vision, and commitment and has demonstrated consistent contributions to humanity through the built environment and through the art of architecture.
The award periodically honors North and South American architects, as well as other global architects practicing on those continents, whose body of architectural work, over time, exemplifies superior design and humanist ideals.
The museum's president and CEO of The Chicago Athenaeum is Christian Narkiewicz-Laine (June 3, 1952). He is a Finnish/Lithuanian/American architect, architecture critic, journalist, painter, sculptor, writer and poet. The vice president is Ioannis Karalias (March 26, 1954), Greek architect and painter is the Museum Vice President and Director of the Department of Architecture and Design and Director of Good Design, and the director in Europe and COO is Kieran Conlon.