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5 Free Events To Do During The Chicago Architecture Biennial

Thousands of Chicagoans took to the streets to visit buildings and sites that they normally would not be able to during the Chicago Architecture Foundation's annual Open House Chicago event. But another, larger event is ongoing that aims to bring a better appreciation and understanding of the built environment to the curious. The Chicago Architecture Biennial runs through Jan. 7, with scores of events, tours and exhibitions highlighting the architecture of Chicago and the world. 

With so much programming to choose from, here are five free standout events that you should not miss.

1. How The Arts Affect Neighborhoods

Beverly Arts Center

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19

Where: Beverly Arts Center, 2407 West 111th St.

Artists seeking cheap rents for studio and living space have long been regarded as the catalysts for economic and real estate development — the most obvious examples in Chicago being Wicker Park, River North and Logan Square. Now arts and social groups are affecting positive change in South Side neighborhoods like South Shore, Hyde Park, Pilsen and Beverly. For this event, leaders from the Chicago Architecture Biennial's South Side anchor sites — the Beverly Arts Center, National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, DuSable Museum of African American History and the Hyde Park Art Center — will discuss the roles their institutions have in transforming their neighborhoods.

2. Calling All Citymakers

Stony Island Arts Bank

When: 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28

Where: Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 South Stony Island Ave.

The Architectural League of New York presents writer/filmmaker/urbanist Cassim Shepard in a lecture focusing on the behind-the-scenes players who help shape the built environments of their neighborhoods: the community groups and leaders who serve as middlemen between high-powered developers and politicians and the residents fearful of being pushed out by rising rents and newer buildings. Shepard spent seven years interviewing these people for his book, "Citymakers: the Culture and Craft of Practical Urbanism."

3. A conversation with Cesar Pelli and Art Gensler

Pelli Clarke Pelli's rendering of Wintrust Arena.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2

Where: Wintrust Arena, 200 West Cermak Road

Pelli Clarke Pelli and Gensler are responsible for designing some of Chicago's most striking new architecture. Pelli Clarke Pelli's recent projects include the Theatre School at DePaul University, 181 West Madison, Lake Forest Hospital and the newly opened Wintrust Arena. Gensler's upcoming projects include Fulton West, the Old Main Post Office redevelopment, Sterling Bay's Fulton West, CBRE's new downtown offices and the Marriott Marquis Chicago at McCormick Place.

Pelli Clarke Pelli founder Cesar Pelli and Gensler founder Art Gensler will discuss their visions for architecture and communities, their insights on modern architecture and the future challenges facing today's architects and designers.

4. 'Housing, Otherwise' Exhibit

Chicago Cultural Center

When: Nov. 6-12

Where: Chicago Architecture Biennial Welcome & Learning Center: Garland Room at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington

Last month, architect Odile Compagnon and architectural consultant Lynette Stulmacher hosted two master classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with local high school students. Their assignment: analyze housing in the North Lawndale neighborhood in order to develop new strategies for affordable housing development in underserved neighborhoods, collaborate with community groups and leverage neighborhood resources to facilitate these projects.

Compagnon and Stulmacher's class will unveil their projects to the public during a weeklong exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center's Garland Room.

5. University of Chicago Architecture Biennial Shuttles

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago

When: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2

Where: Tours begin and end at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 East 60th St.

The University of Chicago is one of the main catalysts of real estate and economic development in Hyde Park. There is not a block between Washington Park and Midway Plaisance where the school's influence on the neighborhood is not felt. U of C will run an hourly shuttle throughout the campus that will pass several touchstones, including the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, the Smart Museum of Art, Hyde Park Art Center, the DuSable Museum, the Washington Park arts block the school is developing with artist Theaster Gates, and Jackson Park and the site of the Obama Presidential Center.