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Chicago Architecture Foundation Finalizes Sites for This Year's Open House Chicago

By Benjy Lipsman in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 25, 2013 3:40PM

Photos by Benjy Lipsman

Those of us who consider ourselves architecture geeks will have the opportunity to peek inside 150 buildings—many that aren't typically open to the public—as part of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Open House Chicago Oct. 19 and 20. The CAF recently released their final list of sites for the 2013 event.

As in the past, this amazing event is free to attend. For most sites, no reservations are necessary. The weekend program runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, although not all sites are open the full hours and not all are open both days. Changes from past years include some "members' only" sites and some locations that do require advance reservations for specific tour times.

Those sites open exclusively to CAF members include architecture firm JAHN, with its popular rotunda room; the new Langham hotel in the former IBM Building; and tech start-up co-working space 1871, in the Merchandise Mart; and University of Chicago's Regenstein & Mansueto Libraries. Reservations are also necessary to tour the Langham and U of C libraries, as well as the Polish Consulate General on Lake Shore Drive, and Testa Produce's sustainably-built food distribution center.

Open Houses are spread across the city, from Rogers Park to Pullman, the lakefront to Lawndale. There are historic buildings that help trace the city's past, modern marvels, religious institutions, cultural landmarks, and civic buildings. Many of the architecture and design firms responsible for our city's incredible skyline will open up their offices, as well.

During last year's Open House Chicago, we ended up hitting nearly 30 sites. We focused on those near downtown on one day by foot, and hopped in our car to hit the IIT campus, Lawndale, Pilsen, and Uptown on the second day. This plan worked well, so we're again mapping out a day in and around the Loop, and then a day exploring a number of the city's neighborhoods.

While many of the buildings open for the 2013 Open House have been included in the past, over a third of the sites are new this year. Some of the highlights include the Crain's Communication building (formerly Stone Container) at 150 N. Michigan, with its iconic diamond top; the Raddison Blu hotel inside Aqua; the brand new William Jones College Preparatory High School in the South Loop; the Robie House, KAM Isaiah Israel synagogue and the U of C libraries in Hyde Park; all historic Pullman sites; and for the lover of libations, City Winery and Goose Island's Fulton St. brewery.