Open House Chicago: Free architecture tours. Open House Chicago is an annual Chicago Architecture Foundation FREE event where Chicagoan’s get access to over 200 buildings around the Chicago area some of which are usually not open to the public.
When: Saturday-Sunday, October 14-15, 2017. Check links below for dates and times.
Where: Chicago, Wilmette, other suburbs.
Check the list here or the map of sites here. Subscribe to the newsletter for updates OHC e-news. A few sites are open to Chicago Architecture Foundation members only but the vast majority are available to the public.
OHC is free-of-charge. Registration is required for a few sites otherwise no tickets are required. Organize a group, plan your itinerary, mark your calendar and prepare to run from building-to-building all weekend! There will also be related program which are not on the website yet.
No “Must-See” List
I have no way of knowing who’s interested in what so I’m not creating a “Must See Sites” post. There’s everything from hotel lobbies (always open), many churches and religious buildings, office buildings offering “sweeping views”, nondescript apartment building (maybe they’re trolling for tenants), architects offices (unemployed architects bring your CV’s!), several re-purposed bank vaults and much more.
Following are some sites I’m considering because:
- They are inaccessible to the general public
- You will get more access than on regular days and/or
- They usually require a fee to tour.
To plan your tours:
- The site allows you to filter for various parameters such as “Registration required” and “Long lines.”
- They recommend that you use their mobile-friendly website and their online itinerary planning tool.
- To save sites you plan to visit click the “add to itinerary” button. Unfortunately in order to use this feature you have to register through either Twitter or Facebook. This brings up privacy issues. Ugh. Thanks CAF!
- You can pick up a printed copy of the OHC Event Guide in the October 12, 2017 issue of the Chicago Tribune.
- The Event Guide can be picked up at CAF headquarters (224 S. Michigan Ave.) beginning October 12, 2017 and during OHC weekend.
- A downloadable PDF version of the Event Guide will also be posted on the website starting Thursday, October 12.
- Shutterbugs should check each site description to confirm that you can take photos.
- Many of these buildings are included in CAF tours (for a fee of course).
150 North Riverside, Located at 150 North Riverside Enter on Randolph Street. This is the new building along the river west of Lake Street cantilevered over a new stretch of the Riverwalk.. NEW 2017
Wintrust Bank, 231 S. LaSalle St. LaSalle Street entrance. Designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and completed 1924. This allows access to the rooftop deck with up-close views of the Chicago Board of Trade Building, If I do this one I would probably run across the street to the Federal Reserve Bank to see the Great Hall.
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Money Museum, 230 S. LaSalle St. Visit the Money Museum (regularly open to the public) and peek inside the Great Hall, which is not open to the public. All visitors subject to security check.
Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. Visit the Founders’ Room, an exclusive hall that was offices of Stanley Field, Museum president for 56 years. The Founders’ Room houses artifacts and specimens not normally seen by the public. Entry to the Founders’ Room does not include admission to The Field Museum. Guests interested in visiting the rest of the Museum will need to purchase tickets.
Other sites to consider (been there done that):
Aon Center sweeping views of Millennium and Maggie Daley Park Fantastic views from the 71st floor.
Columbia Yacht Club, 111 N. Lake Shore Dr. If you’ve ever wondered about the boat docked at Monroe Harbor it’s a private yacht club. I used to know some members who have now retreated with their boats to warmer climes. Step up when walking through doors.
Frederick C. Robie House, 757 S. Woodlawn Ave. Located at U of C Campus. Tour the interior of this world-famous Prairie-Style home and learn details of its history from Frank Lloyd Wright Trust docents. Tour tickets are usually around $20.
McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, 99 E. Riverwalk. NW corner of Michigan & Wacker, Riverwalk Level. It’s free on Sunday but cool if you’re into bridges.
The Rookery, 209 S. LaSalle St., Designed by Burnham and Root and completed in 1888, the sky lit lobby was renovated by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905. Subsequent changes were reversed in a 1992 renovation. Access the glass-block walkways above the atrium. Then visit a basement vault that is full of architectural fragments from the building.
Too far for me but cool
Bahá’í House of Worship, 100 Linden, Wilmette. Someone I know got married there long ago (and divorced long ago). This place is stunning and doesn’t ordinarily allow photography but will during the
Here’s the CAF’s official description:
Have you ever walked by a building and thought, I wish I could see what’s inside?
The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago (OHC) is the city’s annual architecture festival. For one weekend in October you can explore Chicago’s most iconic and unique architectural treasures. From mansions to sacred spaces, theaters to private clubs, hotels to secret rooms—OHC gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at many of the city’s great places and spaces that are rarely, if ever, open to the public.
Here’s your chance to venture into new neighborhoods, learn the stories of Chicago’s buildings and experience the diversity and culture of each community.