The biggest public architecture event in the Midwest is about to fling open the formerly private doors of dozens of Chicago buildings. Open House Chicago allows mere mortals the ability to see the rarified, sacred, and exclusive spaces of some of the city’s best- and least-known structures, from America’s tallest building to a factory in Bridgeport that’s been making architectural embellishments since before the people who planned the 1893 Columbian Exposition were still in diapers.
The price to attend this event? Tickets start at zero dollars, and go all the way up to nothing.
This means that this weekend, October 19 and 20, every Joe Lunchbucket and Jane Lipgloss from Forest Park to Park Forest can prowl the depths of the Chicago Board of Trade and gaze from the heights of the Metropolitan Club for the price of a CTA day pass. Suck it, 1%.
While most of the locations are in downtown Chicago, this is an excellent reason to go explore some of the city’s other neighborhoods and see their hidden gems from a perspective that even the locals don’t get.
I went two years ago, and it’s certainly a great day out. Depending on your planning and ambition, you can easily see six or seven locations with time for a light lunch in the middle. But be sure to check the Open House Chicago web site first, since some of the venues are closed on Saturday and others are closed on Sunday.
Here’s a fact sheet the Chicago Architecture Foundation sent over about the event:
- October 19 & 20, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) will host Open House Chicago 2013 (OHC), a free event that takes the public behind the scenes of more than 150 of the city’s greatest spaces and places. OHC is made possible through the generous support of: Kemper Corporation, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Transit Authority, NBC5 Chicago, ComEd, Designer at Home and Room & Board.
- OHC is free! No registration required. Sites will be open on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign up for the OHC e-newsletter for important OHC updates: www.architecture.org/ohcsignup. CAF members enjoy preferred access to all OHC sites. Itineraries are self-guided and informed by a printed event directory (available in the Chicago Tribune in October) or online at openhousechicago.org .
- OHC sites in 15 diverse neighborhoods including downtown Chicago are available at varying times between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Check listings for details. OHC neighborhoods include:
- Bridgeport/Back of the Yards (New for 2013) Prairie District, Downtown Pullman (New for 2013) Garfield Park/North Lawndale, Rogers Park/West Ridge, Gold Coast, South Shore, Hyde Park, Uptown, Lincoln Park (New for 2013), Pilsen
- Visitors arrange their own transportation to the communities/sites they want to experience. Take a CTA train or bus. Walk. Ride a bike. Roller-skate—any method is welcome. Depending on the community, parking may also be widely available.
- OHC weekend will provide access to a wide variety of sites with diverse styles and functions. Locations include: residential spaces, offices, hotels, a boat, theaters and performance halls, private clubs, design/architecture studios, schools, places of worship as well as manufacturing, cultural and government facilities. This diverse selection of sites allows visitors to plan itineraries according to their own specific interests.
- The Chicago Tribune will be printing 500,000 copies of an OHC Event Guide and packaging them in their full regular circulation (home delivery and newsstand) in October. A limited supply of free directories will also be available at OHC sites and at the CAF headquarters at 224 S. Michigan Avenue beginning two weeks prior to the event weekend.
- Become a CAF member at architecture.org to receive a “CAF Member Priority Access Pass,” which grants you quicker access to OHC sites. New this year, CAF Members will get access to a number of “Members Only” sites.
- Sign up to receive the OHC newsletter for updates on venues and the latest information on special programming. Also consider volunteering as a “greeter” at an OHC site—it’s fun, easy and offers great benefits. www.openhousechicago.org/volunteer
- OHC is modeled after similar popular programs in dozens of cities around the world, including New York, London and Tel Aviv. www.openhouseworldwide.org
- OHC is a celebration of Chicago’s neighborhoods and communities. The community partners helping make OHC 2013 happen are: Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, Building Owners and Managers Association, Chicago Loop Alliance, Foundation for Homan Square, Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, Historic Pullman Foundation, Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance, Public Media Institute, Pullman State Historic Site, Resurrection Project, Rogers Park Business Alliance, Rogers Park / West Ridge Historical Society, South East Chicago Commission, South Shore Chamber, Inc., Uptown United
Disclosure Notice: The Chicago Architecture Foundation has provided the author of this article with a free all access pass to this event.