University of Michigan selected by ​U.S. State Department for 2016 Venice Architectural Biennale


The U.S. Department of State selected the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan to organize the exhibition of the United States Pavilion in the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. 

The exhibition, “The Architectural Imagination,” presents new architectural ideas produced for sites in Detroit but with far-reaching application for cities around the world. The project’s curators, Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon, recalibrate the importance of the architectural imagination by calling for projects that demonstrate the creativity and resourcefulness of architectural teams challenged to address urban and environmental issues in the 21st century city. Twelve teams of architects from across the country were challenged to imagine new uses for four neglected sites within the city of Detroit. The teams include: A(n) Office, Detroit; BairBalliet, Columbus, Ohio; Greg Lynn FORM, Los Angeles, California; Mack Scogin Merril Elam Architects, Atlanta, Georgia; Marshall Brown Projects, Chicago, Illinois; MOS, New York, New York; Pita & Bloom, Los Angeles, California; Present Future, Houston, Texas; Preston Scott Cohen, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts; SAA/Stan Allen Architect, New York, New York; T+E+A+M, Ann Arbor; and Zago Architecture, Los Angeles, California.

Davidson is executive director of the nonprofit Anyone Corporation, based in New York City, and editor of the international architecture journal, Log. Ponce de Leon is the ​former dean of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan and principal of MPdL Studio. She is currently the dean of architecture at Princeton University.

“Co-curators Monica Ponce de Leon and Cynthia Davidson have an exceptional vision for the biennale, leveraging Detroit as a city of historical significance and imagination in the United States” said Robert Fishman, Interim Dean and Professor, U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. “The theme of the pavilion, “The Architectural imagination” will bring this vision to life with insights for global applications. The University of Michigan is honored to represent the United States in this endeavor and work alongside Monica and Cynthia on behalf of the dozen teams of architects fulfilling the vision.”

Eight members of the Taubman College faculty are participating in the Biennale. Five faculty are on two of the teams selected for “The Architectural Imagination”: Thom Moran, Ellie Abrons, Adam Fure, and Meredith Miller (T+E+A+M, Ann Arbor); and V. Mitch McEwen (A(n) Office, Detroit, with Marcelo Lopez-Dinardi). In addition, Associate Dean for Research and Creative Practice Geoffrey Thün and Associate Professor Kathy Velikov are part of an interdisciplinary team led by landscape urbanist Pierre Bélanger to represent Canada. They will collaborate on the design of the multimedia project EXTRACTION. Assistant Professor El Hadi Jazairy is contributing to the Kuwaiti Pavilion. Jazairy and Rania Ghosn, his partner in the practice Design Earth, will collaborate on a project entitled “After Oil.”

The International Architecture Biennale is one of the most important events on the international contemporary architecture calendar to showcase American architectural ingenuity. Held in Venice, Italy, every other year, the biennale presents new ideas and projects by architects from around the world. This year’s biennale runs ​May 28-November 27, 2016, in Venice. The curator of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition is Alejandro Aravena. There are 29 national pavilions on the Biennale grounds, with many more countries participating in other venues. 

Learn more about the 2016 Venice Architectural Biennale at

To read about The Architectural Imagination:
To read about the participating architects:
To read more about the 15th International Architecture Exhibition:

Banner – Photograph by BORGHY52 / Flickr Creative Commons. Acqua alta a Venezia. Grayscale.