BAM Biennial 2021: Architecture & Urban Design
Photo: Courtesy of the artists. Johnston Architects & Facing Homelessness (Mona Zellers, Jack Chaffin, Jasmyn Flores, Liz Wasson Coleman, Shane Leaman, Kristopher Kohl, Jesse Davis, Jennifer Tee), The View from Here, 2021, mixed media

BAM Biennial 2021: Architecture & Urban Design

Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA - To April 24

by Matthew Kangas

With its historical curatorial concentration on craft and design, Bellevue Arts Museum continues its biennial juried surveys, but shifting from media-based materials to architecture and urban design. The timing could not be better. Persistent homelessness, the rise of sustainable building practices, and a newfound awareness of wealth inequality give this year’s display greater relevance, especially in wealthy Bellevue.

Various large and small firms, individual practices, and design teams are represented, selected by a VIP panel of jurors including BAM’s former executive director and chief curator Benedict Heywood. All the designers are alert to the challenges of creating livable sites for people of diverse incomes. They offer temporary and permanent solutions as well as construction innovations such as recyclable materials, computer design, and multiple funding sources.

As BAM’s press release points out, “With the Eastside being connected to Seattle through a light rail extension in 2023, and Amazon’s HQ2 project under construction in downtown
Bellevue, Bellevue Arts Museum – itself a signature and important piece of the architecture of King County [by Steven Holl] – seeks to promote a discussion on the essential role of effective and equitable design in what seems to be an ever-expanding urban environment.”

Combining blueprints, plans, photographs, scale models and installations, Architecture & Urban Design sets the stage for the coming decade of growth, now referred to as “urban,” but in Bellevue for the past 70 years, strictly suburban. Seeking to correct and mature the awful suburban sprawl of unregulated tract divisions, BAM takes a leadership role for the whole area, encouraging prestige firms and radical younger architects to create solutions for real problems – transportation, housing, parks – with skillful, humane approaches that elevate use above aesthetic impact. Two $5,000 cash prizes will be announced in early April.

In-person curator tour Feb 4, 2-3pm; virtual tour Feb 5, 11am-noon

Share this: