Columbian Model Works Takes On Annual Cleaning Of Miniature Chicago In CAF Lobby

Bill Bauman from Columbian Model & Exhibit Works

Bill Bauman from Columbian Model and Exhibit Works

The intricate model of the City of Chicago in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s lobby started out as a temporary exhibit.

That was six years ago.

It remains a popular site with visitors, as was evident during Open House Chicago weekend last month. The lobby of the C.A.F. at 224 South Michigan Avenue was humming with architecture fans and many were there to check out the scale model of the city.

West Loop-based Columbian Model & Exhibit Works created the C.A.F. model of Chicago. It also takes on the annual task of cleaning all 1,100 buildings in the exhibit, according to Bill Bauman from Columbian.

“Every winter, we crawl in and take out all the buildings and clean them,” Bauman said. “While we’re in there, we take out the models of buildings that have been torn down, and add new buildings. The whole process takes about six hours and six people.”

We at the Chicago Architecture Blog naturally wondered if Bauman built model cars or had an Erector Set when he was growing up.

“No model cars, but I was fond of Legos!” he said.

Chicago Architecture Foundation city model, including the Chicago Spire

Chicago Architecture Foundation city model, including the Chicago Spire

Location: 224 South Michigan Avenue, The Loop

Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at

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