Youth Engagement


The Chicago Architecture Biennial provides free, educational and creative programming to learners of all ages as a way to promote active exploration of the built environment and encourage audiences to see architecture and design as tools for change.

CAB's youth programming aims to: Facilitate meaningful and ongoing engagements with students, schools, community organizations, universities, museums, and other cultural institutions; Encourage connections between learners’ lived experiences and CAB content; Reach students from populations historically underrepresented in architecture, and; Provide opportunities for co-learning across generations and disciplines. 


CAB's youth engagement programs provide opportunities for active engagement with key issues through the lenses of architecture, design, and urbanism and encourage youth and family audiences to reimagine their communities and city. Youth programs organized around the 2021 edition, The Available City, highlight themes of equity, sustainability, and community-based design, with a specific focus on unused spaces including vacant city-owned lots.

Youth Studios

More than twenty Youth Studios were hosted this fall together with youth-serving community organizations across Chicago. Youth Studios bring high school students together with design professionals to actively explore architecture and design in relation to questions or topics facing them and their communities with the goals of exposing young people to architecture and design; promoting civic engagement; and supporting college and career readiness.

Fall 2021 Youth Studio Partners include: 6018North, BUILD, CCA Academy, GnarWare Workshop, Landon Bone Baker Architects,, Red Clay Dance, Territory, and Wayfinding.

Virtual Field Trips

An engaging and interactive virtual field trip experience for grades 2-12 takes students on a tour of several 2021 Biennial sites across Chicago, prompts questions and conversation, and encourage participants to think about how they can shape their communities. The trip runs approximately 40 minutes and can be viewed at any time using the link below.

View a recording of our virtual field trip.

Youth Council

CAB’s Youth Council engages youth voices in shaping both our organization and the larger cultural and architecture and design landscapes of the city while providing personal and professional mentorship to teens.

The inaugural session of our Youth Council ran between October and December 2021 with a group of 9th-12th grade students from across Chicago. Through weekly virtual meetings and in-person workshops, students met with speakers including CAB Artistic Director David Brown, Shermann Thomas aka Dilla the Urban Historian, and CAB 2021 contributor Germane Barnes, and developed a final project and exhibition titled Second Looks: Reimagining Abandoned Buildings which was on view at the Chicago Cultural Center between December 16-30, 2021.


The Student Ideas Competition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial encourages middle and high school students to share their ideas for how design can play a role in creating shared spaces and shaping communities. Visit our competition page for more details and to see projects by past competition winners.

The Fall 2021 bp Student Ideas Competition closed December 14, 2021. Winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on January 19, 2022.

Curriculum Toolkit

A standards-aligned curriculum resource for grades 2-12 provides both classroom teachers as well as out-of-school educators and caregivers with resources and activities to bring architecture and design learning to students. This toolkit aligns thematically with the 2021 edition, The Available City, but includes content and activities that will be relevant at any time!

View and Download the 2021 Curriculum Toolkit

Family Programs

Family-friendly activities hosted at CAB project and community partner sites engage families with young children in hands-on activities. Visit our programs page for details about upcoming youth and family programming.

In the fall of 2021, CAB released a series of virtual, interactive family programs in partnership with Could Be Architecture and Chicago Mobile Makers. You can view these programs at the links below.

Could Be Architecture "Animate Architecture" Series
Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3

Chicago Mobile Makers "Let's Fold Paper" Series
Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3


Are you an organization, school, or a caregiver or teacher looking for ways to engage young people in conversations about how they can play a role in shaping our cities and world through architecture and design?

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