by jenna robbins
Including everything from the tops of Chicago skyscrapers to century-old underground bank vaults, Open House Chicago is a celebration of the city’s world-class architecture that will take place all over Chicago Oct. 14-15. The annual event is absolutely free, and it gives people the opportunity to explore the inner workings of some of the city’s most exclusive and historic buildings.
Organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, numerous architectural treasures will open their doors to the general public, giving people the chance to see the architectural significance of over 200 buildings, many of which are usually closed off. “[I would go] to gain knowledge of the rich tradition that Chicago has to offer. I think it’s a no-brainer,” architecture teacher Joseph Pederson said.
The Open House Chicago is a great opportunity to be able to appreciate the unique gems of Chicago without paying a cent. “We live so close to this world-class city, this phenomenal city. I think there’s great value in recognizing culture and history; the whole world is not just fast-food restaurants on Oakton Street. There’s more stuff to see. I think people can be inspired by beautiful buildings and be inspired by going into the city and seeing what this really vibrant life can be like,” Chicago Literature teacher Joel Walsh said.
“Chicago burnt down at just the right time,” Walsh noted of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, “The new technology of the Industrial Revolution allowed skyscrapers to be built, where as before that, they couldn’t. The rebuilding process after the fire started to occur right when these new building technologies were being developed.”The Chicago Fire left Chicago with almost no buildings, making it the perfect canvas for an emerging generation of architects to push the limits on design and construction that resulted in architectural works of art.
Since the Open House Chicago occurs for only a two-day window, there is no way one can see everything. “I would for sure go into the Jeweler’s building. I would go into the Drake Hotel as well. I would say you check out the Trump Tower too. [Also try to see] the Fine Arts building and the Chicago Athletic Association, they changed it from a private club into a hotel. That one should be at the top of the list,” Walsh said. Go to openhousechicago.org for more information and maps.