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“Loop Value” at the Chicago Architecture Foundation | Exhibition review

CAF reveals hidden costs—both monetary and environmental—in everyday items.

Photograph: Courtesy of Adam Gimpert

Chicago Architecture Foundation’s “Loop Value: The How Much Does It Cost? Shop” begins with this simple statement: “Few people understand how their purchases shape the world.” The show goes on to reveal hidden costs—both monetary and environmental—in everyday items. Crammed with a variety of consumer goods, such as permeable paving bricks, bags of potato chips and a coffeemaker, the exhibition is modeled on a retail store, complete with colorful graphics and bright lighting. Visually busy, the show’s organization would benefit from a clearer hierarchy of information. The exhibition works best when presenting architectural issues such as sustainable building materials and the costs of preservation versus demolition—the latter would make an engaging show all by itself.

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