This year's main exhibition is notably bereft of the trendy building models, sketches and work by "starchitects" one might expect at a major architecture biennial. Instead, a wide range of perspectives, from anthropologists to scholars and artists, take stock of the cultural, social and political forces complicit in the design of cities and buildings.

As part of their Settler Colonial City Project, professors Ana María León and Andrew Herscher have installed a series of placards in the Chicago Cultural Center's various rooms and halls. On each, they highlight glossed-over facts about the colonialism that contributed to Chicago's urban development.

Several of bold-faced statements underscore dark truths about the Chicago Cultural Center itself, such as "This marble was quarried and assembled by exploited labor," and "This mahogany was extracted from indigenous land."

According to Tavares, the provocative project encourages visitors to question their everyday surroundings and "excavates the many ways in which the histories of colonialism register within this very building."

Originally published on, September 25th 2019. Click here for full story