Open House Chicago, a new way to walk the river and new online programs

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JULY 28, 2020 • ISSUE 16



10 days. 20+ neighborhoods. Endless discoveries.
The second-most widely attended event of its kind in the world, returning for a tenth consecutive year, Open House Chicago highlights architecturally, culturally and historically significant sites across “the city of neighborhoods,” with an intentional focus for 2020 on the city’s South and West Sides.

Attendees can look forward to both in-person, outdoor exploration using the new OHC mobile app, and remotely accessible experiences that unlock fascinating stories about extraordinary communities across Chicago through interactive virtual programs and more!

Bookmark and stay tuned for more details.

Open House Chicago 2020 is made possible by Presenting Sponsor Wintrust, the National Endowment for the Humanities through its CARES Act grant program, the National Endowment for the Arts, the TAWANI Foundation and ComEd. Photo of Chicago by Iwan Baan for the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015.

River cruise


This summer is like no other—but it’s still summer. Lovers of Chicago and its architecture are already back to enjoying our top-rated Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady! With limited capacity to support social distancing, these cruises fill up fast. CAC docents and expert CFL crew take every precaution possible to make your outdoor, upper-deck journey fun and safe.

PS: Complement your river cruise experience in our galleries, featuring hands-free exhibits, for just $5 more. See the world’s largest model of Chicago, discover world-famous skyscrapers with local roots, and explore the city’s unique neighborhoods. Plus, look for new models on display in our Drake Family Skyscraper Gallery.

Treat your family or social circle to an unforgettable experience

Enjoy an acclaimed CAC walking tour with those you know by booking a My Social Circle private tour—along any existing route—or create a custom tour of your own design! It’s the perfect time of year to get out and explore the city and the memories will last a lifetime. Save big on My Social Circle when you become a CAC member!

Private tours

Please note the CAC’s safety policies for public walking tours apply to private and custom tours as well.


The Future of Transportation and Urban Mobility
Tuesday, August 18 at noon

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 creates significant challenges for urban transit systems and efforts to reshape mobility in general. Join a panel of experts at this virtual program to hear what strategies are on the table in Chicago for the future of transportation.

Future of Transportation program


Murals of Chicago
Saturday, August 1 at 1pm

Murals enliven architecture, reflect social issues and honor both ordinary people and famous figures. CAC docent Maurice Champagne covers the Progressive Era, the Works Progress Administration and Federal Art Project, commercial murals of the 1930s, community artworks of the late 20th century on Chicago’s West and South Sides, and current trends.

Murals of Chicago

Chicago’s Riverwalk
Wednesday, August 5 at 7pm

Located on the south bank of the Chicago River, the Chicago Riverwalk is a bustling strip for recreation between Lake Michigan and the confluence of the river’s north and south branches. City of Chicago project manager and CAC docent Michelle Woods shares the history and features of this unique park at the bottom of a “canyon” of world-famous architecture.

Photo by Angie McMonigal

Retail Revolution on State Street
Saturday, August 8 at 1pm

CAC docent Brian Kelly shares how innovative collaborations between merchants and architects—along with the emergence of architecturally significant department stores—brought a retail revolution to State Street in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Retail program

CAC members love our CAC Live virtual programs—and get unlimited FREE access to them with only processing fees! Become a CAC member today and stay tuned for new CAC Live programs we’ll announce later this summer.



Read along with CAC Manager of School and Family Programs Rebecca Boland as we flip through “Mighty, Mighty Construction Site” by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld—then try the at-home activity linked below!

Storytime video


Our deepest gratitude to the hundreds who joined us from across and beyond Chicago for Gala 2020: Open Doors Open Minds. It felt great to connect with so many longtime friends of the CAC and to welcome new design lovers into the fold. Congratulations to honorees Nila R. Leiserowitz and Edward J. Wehmer, and special thanks to event host and CAC docent Geoffrey Baer, Kurtis Productions and Patricia Hurley and Associates, distinguished architects Juan Gabriel Moreno, Billie Tsien and Tod Williams and our teen programs alumni—all of whom contributed to the event’s enormous success.

If you missed Gala 2020 live on July 23, you can still view the full program online for a limited time, and you can still support the event by making a donation.


Aux Board River Walk


CAC Auxiliary Board: 2020 Fundraiser
Thursday, August 6 at 6pm
Walk the river with us!

The CAC Auxiliary Board’s annual river cruise fundraiser has been reconfigured as an exciting virtual experience! Take a CAC-curated, self-guided tour of the Chicago Riverwalk and attend an online event to support the CAC Teen Fellows program. Each guest who registers in advance—for just $25—will receive a package that includes instructions for their Riverwalk tour, complete with fun facts and stories of the river; gifts from sponsors and Riverwalk businesses; a signature cocktail recipe; and more! All ticket sales, sponsorships and donations go toward the purchase of laptops and software for 20 students, to increase access to remote learning in architecture and design.

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