Exhibit at Venice Architecture Biennale features work of UTA students, faculty

IMAGE: UT Arlington College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs faculty and students have an exhibit in the international Venice Biennale starting this week.
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Credit: UT Arlington

An exhibit about watershed urbanism, featuring work by faculty and students from The University of Texas at Arlington, will open May 22 as part of the European Cultural Center’s (ECC) 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale.

The Venice Architecture Biennale is an international architecture exhibition that occurs every two years. It showcases cutting-edge work from across the globe in the field of architecture and is considered one of the most important events for cultural critics, investors and designers. The exhibition will run through Nov. 21, 2021. After the biennale, the exhibit will return to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

The exhibitions are held throughout Venice at Palazzo Mora, Palazzo Bembo and Giardini Marinaressa. The ECC, along with the Venice Architecture Biennale, will welcome approximately 600,000 international visitors.

This year’s exhibit was scheduled for last year, but was delayed because of the pandemic.

Adrian Parr, UNESCO water chair and former dean of UTA’s College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA), is leading the design and development of the exhibit and is credited with creating the term “watershed urbanism.” The exhibition, which focuses on the Trinity River watershed in North Texas, celebrates innovative design practices that involve both real and speculative projects. Studio work from CAPPA will be featured alongside some of the most highly regarded designers and design programs in the world.

“Urban and water systems are inextricably linked. Water systems are especially vulnerable in the current climate of rapid urbanization. North Texas is no different. The Trinity River plays a vital part in what the region has become and what it will change into,” Parr said. “This exhibition explores how design thinking and practices might create more ecologically sensitive urban growth models, ones that ultimately participate in the production of more inclusive, friendly and adaptable built environments.”

Urban areas like DFW face increasing pressures from population booms, sprawl, aging infrastructure and a changing climate. As one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States and situated along the waterways that make up the Trinity River watershed, the Metroplex is experimenting with bold visions for the future.

“There is a need for regions like DFW to reconsider how and where they grow, and what they will encourage to grow and build,” Parr said. “The momentum around creating thriving, healthy, vibrant, dense and environmentally friendly cities is mounting. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is no exception.”

Maria Martinez-Cosio, interim CAPPA dean, said the exhibit spotlights issues that are critical to this region.

“We’re especially excited to see the exhibit eventually make its way back to this area,” Martinez-Cosio said. “We believe it can illuminate how our water systems function in our region. Students will benefit from learning how everything is connected. I know it will motivate some of them to study further the impacts watersheds have on our environment and surroundings.”

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Partners in the exhibit include the cities of Arlington and Lewisville; HKS; Perkins & Will; Streams & Valleys and the Tarrant Regional Water District; and the Trinity Park Conservancy.

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