Top Design Cities 2019: Chicago

Artistic director of this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial, Yesomi Umolu is at the center of an energized design capital.

You need only look up at the skyline to understand why Chicago is one of the United States’ most important design cities. The Chicago Architecture Biennial—the third iteration of which runs September 19‚ 2019‚ to January 5‚ 2020—has elevated that reputation even further. Titled ...and other such stories‚ this year’s edition takes a hard look at how the built environment affects communities, with sections dedicated to ecology, memory, activism, and other social and political forces.

Yesomi Umolu, the show’s artistic director and a curator at the University of Chicago, is particularly excited about the residencies the biennial has fostered on the south and west sides of the city. "I’m looking forward to inviting visitors to reflect on their everyday experiences with the city," she says.

Her perfect day in Chicago...

Fabiana's Bakery

A resident of Hyde Park‚ Umolu picks up her morning coffee (and something sweet)at Fabiana’s Bakery, a short stroll from Promontory Point on the lakefront‚ where you’ll find a stunning view of the city’s skyline.


For lunch‚ Umolu recommends taking your taste buds on a trip while surrounded by sleek South American hardwoods at Peruvian restaurant Tanta in River North.

Sprout Home Kitchen and Table

She indulges her penchant for well-crafted home goods at Sprout Home Kitchen and Table in West Town. 

Chicago Cultural Center

And for some inspiration‚ she insists on a visit to the Chicago Cultural Center and the Kerry James Marshall mural on its facade. "The building itself is an architectural gem‚ incredibly ornate and eclectic‚" Umolu says. "It’s truly a space that welcomes a diverse collection of people."

Kerry James Marshall mural

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