Open House Chicago (OHC), hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation is one of the city’s largest cultural events. If you’re a design, architecture or Chicago history buff it truly shouldn’t be missed. Best of all its totally FREE! The event gives you the opportunity to explore and tour the cities most vibrant architecture gems. For one weekend OHC opens the doors to over 200 sites across the whole city including: rooftops, scared spaces, mansions, theaters, skyscrapers, hotels, and everything in between. As an architectural designer and fellow Chicagoan, I’ve outlined the top 5 MUST-SEE locations to hit for this year’s Open House Chicago.
Date: October 14-15 from 9am-5pm. (Times vary depending on specific sites)
Website: Open House Chicago
Location: Spans the entire city of Chicago, Oak Park, Evanston & Willmette
#1 : Robie House
The Robie House is one of the most quintessential examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style architecture. Bold horizontal lines, deep overhangs and stained glass are some most notable characteristics. As with many of FLW’s designs, he not only created the architecture but also fully designed the interiors and furniture. The iconic residence was completed in 1909. In 1991, the Robie House was deemed one of the ten most significant structures of the twentieth century by the American Institute of Architects. Take the free opportunity to visit this world-famous building without the usual $18 ticket price.
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Hours: Sat, Oct 14: Closed
Sun, Oct 15: 9am – 4pm
Location: 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave. Chicago
#2 : Aon Center
Don’t miss stunning views from the 3rd tallest skyscraper in Chicago. The 83 floor (1,136 ft) slender granite tower is sited prominently off Millennium Park. It’s simple and elegant design defines the Chicago skyline and is a renowned piece of modernist architecture. Upon its completion in 1973, the tower was the tallest in Chicago and 4th tallest in the world. It was quickly surpassed by the Sears Tower a year later.
Open House Chicago is giving visors full access to the entire 71st floor. Take in 360-degree views of downtown, Grant Park and Lake Michigan. Since this site boasts the best views of all OHC arrive early and expect long lines.
Architect: Perkins + Will,
Edward Durell Stone
Style: Modernist (Skyscraper)
Hours: Sat, Oct 14: 9am – 5pm
Sun, Oct 15: 9am – 5pm
Location: 200 E Randolph St. Chicago
#3 : Bahá’í House of Worship
If you’ve ever looked out the window while on the flight path into O’hare airport you have likely noticed this stunning architectural gem along the shore of Lake Michigan. The bright white temple serves the Bahá’í faith and was the first temple constructed in the Western Hemisphere. Planning and construction spanned for close to 50 years, continuing through the Great Depression and both World Wars, completing in 1953. The impressive structure is constructed of steel and clad with intricate Portland cement precast panels.
Tour the speculator grounds and interior of the ornate temple. Don’t let the Wilmette location scare you away, its a short trek from Chicago. Metra, Purple line or Divvy all service the area.
Architect: Louis Bourgeois
Hours: Sat, Oct 14: 10am -5pm
Sun, Oct 15: 10am -5pm
Location: 100 Linden Ave, Wilmette
#4 : Crown Hall (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is renowned as one of the pioneers of modern architecture. Crown Hall is a true modernist jewel. The structure was constructed in 1956 and houses Illinois Institute of Technology’s Architecture program. The glass and steel pavilion perfects exemplifies Mies’ philosophy of “less is more”. The expansive interior is free of columns and was designed to support ever-changing functions. Step inside and experience the iconic building which has influenced countless architects.
Architect: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Hours: Sat, Oct 14: 9am -5pm
Sun, Oct 15: 9am -5pm
Location: 3360 S State St, Chicago
#5 : Vault at the Chicago Board of Trade
The impressive Chicago Board of Trade building anchors and terminates Lasalle Street in the Chicago Loop district. The skyscraper was complete in 1930 and is notable for its distinct Art Deco style and statue of Ceres, Greek goddess of grain, atop its roof.
Have you ever been inside an authentic vault? Open House Chicago offers exclusive access to the vault and lock-box room in the building’s basement. You wont regret this unique experience and peek inside Chicago history.
Architect: Holabird & Root
Style: Art Deco (Skyscraper)
Hours: Sat, Oct 14: Closed
Sun, Oct 15: 9am – 5pm
Location: 141 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago
Have more time to spend touring? Great, head over to the Open House Chicago website for their complete list of all sites. Don’t forget to use the event’s official hashtag, #OHC2017. Check out my Instagram, @atnelly, to follow me as I photo-document the event. Now go explore!