Open House Chicago Is the Lollapalooza of Architecture

Givins Castle / Photo by Eric Allix Rogers/Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Center

If you’ve ever wanted to visit a yacht club on Lake Michigan or Chicago’s only castle, the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is giving you the key. Open House Chicago invites visitors into some of the city’s most incredible spaces, from skyscrapers to industrial facilities, for a weekend celebrating architecture and design. Now in its ninth year, the free festival will be held October 19 and 20.

Rookery / Photo by Stephanie Barto/Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Center

This year’s lineup is the biggest yet, offering the public behind-the-scenes access to 350 sites in 38 neighborhoods. This includes 140 new sites that did not participate in 2018. Last year, approximately 100,000 people from around the world took part in Open House Chicago.

The event will expand to the northwest side of town this year, featuring sites in Irving Park, Jefferson Park, and Portage Park for the first time. Attendees can step inside the Prairie Style masterpiece of Carl Schurz High School; the grand Copernicus Center auditorium; and Eris Brewery and Cider House, whose restoration of a former Masonic temple won a preservation award.

The Copernicus Center / Photo by Eric Allix Rogers/Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Center

In keeping with the city’s designation of 2019 as the Year of Chicago Theater, Open House Chicago features dozens of theatrical sites. The James M. Nederlander Theatre is an example of ornate 1926 movie palace design by Rapp & Rapp. Visitors can tour the renowned center of improv comedy, Second City. Community arts centers are also highlighted, from the Repertorio Latino Theater Company in Bridgeport to the recently renovated Kehrein Center for the Arts in Austin.

“Chicago Architecture Center’s Open House Chicago showcases buildings that tell the stories of our city’s past and highlights the work residents do to preserve their communities’ rich histories,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot in a press release. “Open House Chicago will narrow the gap between neighbors, bringing people and organizations together for a civic dialogue that creates a brighter future for Chicago.”

James M. Nederlander Theatre / Photo by Eric Allix Rogers/Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Center

The Chicago Architecture Center will also be open for the weekend, waiving its $12 admission fee, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., each day.

Check out the Open House Chicago website for a complete list of sites and suggested itineraries for one of the largest architecture festivals in the world.