CHICAGO — The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) today announced the full roster of neighborhoods and sites participating in Open House Chicago 2019—now in its ninth year and one of the largest architecture festivals in the world. This free two-day public event, taking place Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20, offers behind-the-scenes access to almost 350 sites in 38 neighborhoods, many rarely open to the public, including repurposed mansions, stunning skyscrapers, opulent theaters, exclusive private clubs, industrial facilities, cutting-edge offices and breathtaking sacred spaces.
The new offerings in 2019 include a trail of dozens of theater venues and related sites, literally from A (Adventure Stage Chicago) to Z (Zap Props), celebrating the City’s 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre; an expansion into the Northwest side with the addition of Irving Park, Portage Park, and Jefferson Park joining communities highlighted in previous years of Open House Chicago; and an open invitation to visit the CAC at 111 E. Wacker Drive throughout Open House Chicago weekend, free of charge, for an informative overview of Chicago’s rich architectural legacy.
“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. “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.”
“The ninth annual Open House Chicago is our gift to this city. We’re excited for all Chicagoans to ‘choose their own adventure’ and explore new communities and experience the rich diversity that lies within the 38 neighborhoods included in OHC 2019,” said Lynn Osmond, President and CEO of the CAC. “We’re also inviting people to discover the new galleries at the Chicago Architecture Center for free on October 19 and 20. Chicago’s intrepid urban explorers who love our annual celebration of Chicago neighborhoods will discover that same authentic Chicago experience in our Chicago Gallery, home to the famous Chicago Model and skyscraper exhibits.”
The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the League of Chicago Theatres have designated 2019 as the ‘Year of Chicago Theatre’ and to celebrate, Open House Chicago will showcase dozens of related venues downtown and throughout the neighborhoods, including Broadway In Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre, designed as a motion picture palace by Rapp & Rapp in 1926; UChicago’s new Green Line Performing Arts Center, an economic and creative catalyst for the Washington Park neighborhood; The Second City, the world renowned center of improv comedy training and performance located in Old Town; and an early preview of Guild Row in Avondale, a new campus expected to open in 2020 that is transforming industrial buildings into a member-driven makerspace with a touch of spectacle from the former artistic director of Redmoon Theater.
Also new in 2019, Open House Chicago expands its presence on the Northwest Side with the addition of sites in the Irving Park, Portage Park, and Jefferson Park neighborhoods. Highlights in the area include Irving Park’s Irish American Heritage Center, a former public school with a restored auditorium, private club room and Celtic art throughout; Jefferson Park’s Copernicus Center in the former Gateway Theater, an atmospheric 1930 movie palace transformed into a vibrant concert and theatrical venue; and Eris Brewery & Cider House, the award-winning adaptive reuse of an imposing former Masonic temple as home to a producer of distinctive ciders and beers.
They join the three new neighborhoods from 2018—Austin, Beverly and Morgan Park—which return in 2019. Every community highlighted in Open House Chicago 2018 is included again in this year’s event, typically with several new and exciting additions, giving visitors another chance to visit if they didn’t last year, or a reason to return if they did.
The new Chicago Architecture Center, located in a space designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture at 111 E. Wacker Drive on the Chicago River, will waive its $12 admission and open its doors for free from 10am – 4pm each day. Visitors of all ages are invited to check out the Center’s signature exhibitions including the Chicago Gallery and Drake Family Skyscraper Gallery. Within the Chicago Gallery, the 3D Chicago City Model Experience features 4,200 buildings and interactive elements that tell amazing stories of the city. A film and light show illuminate the model with the story of Chicago’s early growth, its rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire—and its ever-changing skyline, which includes some of the world’s first skyscrapers and iconic modern towers made of steel and glass. Interactive touch screens around the Model allow visitors to orient themselves to Chicago, search for buildings by architect or architectural style, and see data projected on the Model. Located on the second floor of the CAC in the stunning Drake Family Skyscraper Gallery, the Building Tall exhibition is filled with supersized scale models of famous skyscrapers from Chicago and around the world.
Especially for young OHC visitors, a special Family Festival at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion will offer a behind-the-scenes look at this engineering marvel designed by architect Frank Gehry. During the Family Festival, kids ages 6 to 12 will learn how the Pavilion’s sculptural curves and twists project sound from the stage to the audience–plus there will be an opportunity to design one’s own sculptural structure. Families are invited to attend 12pm-4pm both days of Open House Chicago.
For a complete list of participating sites, visit openhousechicago.org. Most Open House Chicago sites are free and do not require a reservation, but participants are encouraged to sign up to receive event e-newsletters and last-minute announcements. Get the latest news and fun facts about Open House Chicago by following the Chicago Architecture Center on Twitter (@chiarchitecture) and Facebook (facebook.com/chiarchitecture). In addition to free access, Open House Chicago offers activities at various sites all weekend long, including cultural performances, family festivals and more. Information about these programs will be added to the website later in September.
Select Open House Chicago sites require advance registration (usually due to security or capacity constraints) and will not accept drop-in visitors.
CAC is partnering again this year with TodayTix to manage booking for most RSVP-only sites, which includes lotteries for the most sought-after and limited-capacity sites. TodayTix will charge a modest processing fee for most RSVP-only site bookings. Registration for these sites and lotteries opens on September 10, and full information is available on the Open House Chicago website.
Become a CAC member at openhousechicago.org/membership to receive a Priority Access pass, which gives exclusive access to Members Only sites and the ability to skip the lines at busier Open House Chicago sites.
In 2018, Wintrust became the Presenting Sponsor for Open House Chicago through 2020. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, ComEd, TAWANI Foundation, and DCASE (Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events). Open House Chicago partners include Choose Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority and Open House Worldwide. Media sponsors include Chicago Magazine, the Chicago Tribune and WBEZ 91.5FM/Vocalo.org.
Open House Chicago is part of a worldwide movement of free open house events that began in London in 1992. Today more than 50 cities worldwide hold similar weekend festivals. Open House Chicago is the second largest event of its kind globally.
About the Chicago Architecture Center
The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), formerly the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring people to discover why design matters. As an education leader in architecture and design, The CAC is a hub for everything architecture in Chicago offering tours, programs, exhibitions, field trips, curricula and online tools that are part of a dynamic learning journey for all ages. Proceeds from CAC’s tours and store, as well as grants, sponsorships and donations, support this educational mission. For more information, visit www.architecture.org.