Superfluous: An Architectural Project

Superfluous: An Architectural Project

Runs September 14 to October 16

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

This event is possible thanks to:


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


O utilité inattendue de l'inutile! Charité des grandes choses! Bonté des géants!

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, eleven 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.

The winning proposal designed by Nicholas Desotell entitled Clairvoyance takes on the ideas of public space and belonging. As you turn down the alleyway off of Chicago Avenue, discover a path to a sensory French experience. See and touch French texts on the wall and feel moss grown below your feet, then find yourself drawn inside our courtyard by French voices and the smell of fresh baked bread and coffee. Explore the whimsical ingenuity of the winning proposal for this juried project and find out about ten more proposals exhibited within our walls.

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. Special thanks also goes to the French Pastry School.


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.

En partenariat avec l’exposition international d’art Expo Chicago et de la seconde Biennale d’architecture de Chicago, l’Alliance Française célèbre cet automne l’architecture et l’influence de la France sur les hommes et les femmes qui ont fait de Chicago une des capitales mondiales du premier art.

For this event we partnered with:

Expo Chicago
Chicago Architecture Biennial