This exhibition, curated by Stanley Tigerman and John Zukowsky, former Curator of Architecture at the Art Institute, was in-the-making for four years. Its intention was to select by jury process a number of Chicago architects to express their visions of a kind of future for the city. Two earlier Chicago based exhibitions — the first about the past (1871–1923), the second about the (then) present (1923–1993) — represented the first two legs of a chronological triangle, the final leg of which would focus on Chicago’s future.
A gallery space of ‘perimeter’ was designated by the Art Institute for this purpose, two sides of which were devoted to the individual concepts of the ten architects. Each space was 21'-0" square and was bisected diagonally by an open grid that caused half of each space to be 8'-0" high and the other half 15'-0" high. A shared entry with another exhibition represented a third side, while the fourth side was devoted to ten interactive chambers between each architect and successive viewers.
McCurry chose the challenge of creating exemplary and imaginative affordable housing in Chicago. The Projection Zone contrasts good and bad projects through a continuous parade of images that document the checkered past of affordable housing, while in the Presentation Zone McCurry exhibits their vision for the future in four gridded sections. Their goal was that neither the narrow strictures of a typical city lot nor the affordability of the structure should prevent the creation of aesthetically pleasing prototypical housing that is handsomely proportioned on the interior for its constituents and on the exterior for its community. Slight permutations within a minimal 20’ x 40’ footprint and siting variations generate plans for single and multifamily housing that use practical non-costly components in artful combinations to produce new typologies.
There is no overarching vision that the ten architects agreed upon, and that seems to be the point. Apparently, multivalence is alive and well and at home in Chicago in a post-Miesian, post Post-Modernist era.