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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
Chicago Architecture Center 
The Chicago Architecture Center returns in 2019 as the Biennial's Signature Education Partner, a role it has held in the previous two editions. Through this partnership, we are able to broaden the reach of our educational programming for youth and families and support educators in exploring the Biennial, both through visits to the Chicago Cultural Center and in their classrooms. Visit the Chicago Architecture Center website for information on 2019 programming.

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!

For Teachers

Field Trips

Guided Tours 
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.

Self-Guided Tours
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.

Registration for both Chicago Architecture Center and self-guided field trip registration will open in August. Join our mailing list to receive a  notification when field trip sign up is open.

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 and partner sites, and entering competitions.

If you think your school would be a good candidate for the School Partners Program, please email education@chicagoarchitecturebiennial.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 space and online for free download.

Teacher Trainings
Teacher trainings will familiarize K-12 and university educators with Biennial learning materials to be used at the Chicago Cultural Center and in classrooms as well as 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 in the fall. 

For Students

Youth Studios

Youth Studios are a key component of Learning Initiatives at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. These three-hour sessions provide an opportunity for students across Chicago to engage with the themes and topics of the Biennial through collaborative exploration, conversation, and creative production.

The 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 theheart of the Biennial.

Youth Studios will serve high school students across the city between July and December 2019. Each studio will be co-created by a creative facilitator and a community parter, expanding the Biennial's reach into neighborhoods across Chicago. Youth Studios should be aligned with the curatorial focus of the 2019 Biennial, ...and other such stories.

Request for Proposals
With the support of a Biennial benefactor, we are pleased to be able to provide funding for a limited number of Youth Studios in 2019.

More information about Youth Studios and how to submit a program may be found in our Youth Studios Request for Proposals. All proposals should be submitted through the Youth Studio Proposal Intake Form and a letter of interest including details outlined in the RFP should be submitted via email. 

The Youth Studio Proposal Intake Form will close July 26, 2019.

BP Student Ideas Competition
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

Teen Ambassador Program
Through the Chicago Architecture Center 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. Sign up will begin in August 2019.

Community Festivals

Community Festivals in the fall will explore Biennial themes through hands-on creative explorations for children ages 6-12 at partner site locations.
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