Superfluous: An Architectural Project

Date(s) - 09/14/17
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Alliance Française de Chicago

Hosted by
AF Chicago

Thursday, September 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Free Admission / French and English
54 W. Chicago Avenue

Vernissage • Thursday September 14, 6:30 p.m.

Exhibition open to the public during our business hours through October 16
Alleyway installation open 24/7


Oh, unforeseen utility of the superfluous! Charity of great things! Goodness of giants!

These are the words, which Victor Hugo uses to present the dwelling Gavroche has made for himself inside the gigantic plaster model of an elephant sculpture. Using the courtyard at the Alliance Française of Chicago as their site, students from the Capstone Studio in Architecture, Interior Architecture at the School of the Art Institute, led by Odile Compagnon, devised temporary minimal living quarters that respond to the cultural, social, and environmental quality of the site, as well as to their own narratives about homelessness, temporary housing and migration.

Discover the whimsical ingenuity of the winning proposal for this juried project on view in our courtyard and alleyway, and find out about ten more proposals exhibited within our walls.

Opening night will include a conversation with community leaders and artists engaged in issues of homelessness; street music; and a public reading of excerpts from Les Misérables performed around the Alliance.

In the year we celebrate our 120th anniversary, Superfluous makes it possible for a new voice, from a new generation of architects, to make a difference. Innovative and inspiring, the project opens a conversation about the role our Alliance can play in the future of our community and our city.

This exhibition is made possible thanks to the Jean Bodfish Brown Memorial Fund and the support of the School of the Art Institute Architecture Department and is part of Expo Chicago as well as the Chicago Architecture Biennial.


The Chicago Architecture Biennial at the Alliance Française de Chicago

Mies Van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, László Moholy-Nagy: these are the name of the architects, Americans and immigrants from Europe, who built the Chicago skyline and its reputation as a uniquely modern city. Urban development by Burnham along the lakeshore was inspired by Haussmann’s grands boulevards in Paris, and it is the French influence on the Windy City that the Alliance celebrates this fall with a series of talks and exhibitions presented under the umbrella of the second Chicago Architecture Biennial.


ODILE COMPAGNON is an independent architect with a practice in Chicago and Paris as well as a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects. Odile was a partner with Studio Gang / O’Donnell, from its founding in 1997 to 2000 and has worked around the world on projects that specialize in creative reuse, urban planning, education and community participation. Ms. Compagnon is a registered Architect in Illinois, France and the E.E.C.