School of Architecture alums Mack Scogin and Merrill Elam will represent the U.S. in the International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Bie

You can think of the architects who present their work at the Venice Biennale sort of like Olympic athletes: They are the very best at what they do, their work achieves new, global benchmarks and moves their field forward.

Next year, the work of Georgia Tech School of Architecture alumni Merrill Elam (ARCH 1971) and Mack Scogin (ARCH 1966) will be featured there. The 15th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale will take place May 28 through November 27, 2016, in Venice, Italy.

It is arguably the most important exhibition in the architecture world.

The International Architecture Exhibition is part of the Venice Biennale, a premiere international arts organization that is at the forefront of academic practice and promotion of new contemporary art.

The Venice Biennale hosts an exhibition of groundbreaking art every two years, a tradition started in 1895, where artists showcase their work in pavilions organized by country. Over the last century the exhibition grew to encompass international excellence in visual arts, contemporary dance, cinema, theater, and architecture.

More than 250 architecture firms vied to represent the U.S. for the 2016 exhibition: 12 were picked. Elam and Scogin’s firm is one of them.

“Being selected to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Venice Biennale is a great honor for Merrill, Mack and their firm Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects,” said Scott Marble, the William H. Harrison Chair of the School of Architecture.

“This is one of the most important international forums, showcasing the most thoughtful and culturally significant design from the top architects in the United States.”

The U.S. Pavillion at the 2016 Venice Biennale will feature architectural designs that address the social, cultural, environmenta, and political issues of Detroit, Michigan. Four Detroit sites will be the focus of the 12 participating firms (three firms per site).

Titled, “The Architectural Imagination,” the U.S. Pavillion’s showcase is designed to feature American design excellence, innovation and how speculative thinking can address architectural challenges in our own country. The pavilion is curated by Monica Ponce de Leon (who was the Georgia Tech School of Architecture Thomas W. Ventulett III Distinguished Chair from 2004 – 2005) and Cynthia Davidson.

Atlanta-based Elam and Scogin are no strangers to the U.S. Pavilion subject. They’ve lectured in Detroit and even have been asked to judge a downtown revival project. Although their Venice Biennale commission will address specific problems in this quintessential American city.

The 2016 International Architecture Exhibition’s overarching theme is “about focusing and learning from architectures that, through intelligence, intuition, or both of them at the same time, are able to escape the status quo,” said director Alejandro Aravena in his curatorial statement.

“More and more people in the planet are in search for a decent place to live and the conditions to achieve it are becoming tougher and tougher by the hour,” Aravena said. The projects exhibited next year will show how architects who overcome lack of resources and inertia from decision-makers can improve lives – a nod to the growing movement of socially conscious architecture.

Back at Georgia Tech, Elam is a visiting professor. She’s teaching a Master-level studio this fall titled, “On Audacity and Imagination.”

A fitting preface to “The Architectural Imagination,” Elam’s studio explores the possibilities of architectural design through the medium of video. Her students focus on the ideas of space conjured by moving pictures and represent those ideas through video and physical construct.

To learn more about Elam’s work visit Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects or stop by the Georgia Tech School of Architecture.