On May 22, 1511 in Venice, architect Fra Giovanni Giocondo published the first illustrated architecture book ever to be printed, an edition of Vitruvius’ important architectural treatise: De Architectura libri decem (Ten Books of Architecture). Fra Giocondo’s edition is especially noteworthy because it stands as the progenitor of books that hold an important place in the communication and dissemination of architectural ideas. Starting this spring, a coalition of Chicago-area universities, libraries and other institutions will celebrate the 500th anniversary of this event and the revolution in architectural discourse it brought about with a variety of exhibits and other programming throughout 2011.
The Festival of the Architecture Book will demonstrate the broad range and intrinsic value of the illustrated architecture book as a work of art and imagination. By having numerous venues under separate curatorship, the series hopes to present both a survey and in depth views on specific aspects of the medium. Over 300 books, and other related materials will be displayed, featuring highlights of the Western tradition, including many of Chicago interest. The programs surrounding the anniversary of the 1511 De Architectura libri decem celebrate the history of the illustrated architectural book and give rise to questions about its future.