It’s got a red-hot food scene, dozens of cutting-edge galleries, and—coming this fall—the largest architecture exhibition to hit this side of the Atlantic: the Windy City just might be the most exciting metropolis in the country right now (with apologies to the rest of America).

By Kristen Dold
July 21, 2015
Credit: Tara Donne

Artists' Scene

The once-gritty South Side neighborhood of Bridgeport—best known as the home of the White Sox—has emerged as the city’s latest creative hub. Co-Prosperity Sphere presents film screenings, secret supper clubs, and community-built installations in a converted department store. The sprawling Zhou B Art Center (above) supersizes the open-studio concept, with more than 50 artists working in various disciplines. And woodworkers, sculptors, and fashion designers abound at the Bridgeport Art Center, a timber-framed loft space where they create and exhibit their work.

Architectural Greats

The city that gave the world its first skyscraper is back in the architectural spotlight. Kicking off October 3, the three-month-long Chicago Architecture Biennial will celebrate works by 70 studios from 30 countries, with interactive exhibits, full-scale installations, specially designed kiosks on Lake Michigan, lectures, and more—it will be the largest event of its kind ever held in North America. “We're hoping to prove that Chicago is not just a living museum of 20th-century architectural history, but also a nexus of 21st-century innovation,” says co–artistic director Sarah Herda. Among the issues the show will tackle: sustainable housing solutions, public work spaces, and how technology can shape the cities of tomorrow.

Credit: Tara Donne

Three More Events Worth the Trip:

Randolph Street Market Festival (monthly): Chicago’s best flea market brings together vintage-clothing vendors, antiques obsessives, jewelry artisans, and other purveyors of handcrafted goods. There’s also a pop-up beer garden.
Expo Chicago (below; Sept. 17–20): Collectors, dealers, and art aficionados flock to Navy Pier to browse and buy works from more than 140 leading galleries around the world.
“Making Place: the Architecture of David Adjaye” (Sept. 19–Jan. 3): The first U.S. retrospective for the trailblazing African-English architect (whose upcoming projects are rumored to include the Barack Obama presidential library) will bring more than 50 of his sketches and models to the Art Institute.

Credit: Dan Rest