Sneak peek at a new exhibit, river cruise news and volunteer appreciation

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APRIL 6, 2021 • ISSUE 34

CAFC River Cruise


Tickets for the 2021 river cruise season are on sale now! To celebrate, we asked co-tour director Constance Rajala to share what's new on the river, and how docents are preparing for the upcoming season. Here's what she had to say. 

Folklore says you never step into the same river twice. This phrase might have been coined with the Chicago River in mind. Guests on this year's cruise can anticipate new stories and insights about the Bank of America Tower, Wolf Point and Salesforce Tower, the Tribune Tower Residences, the St. Regis and residential developments on both the North and South branches.

Docents will also re-acquaint guests with the story of the first non-indigenous settler—Jean Baptiste Point du Sable—and his diplomat (and de facto PR person) wife Kitihawa, a member of the Potawatomi tribe. They were truly Chicago’s first “power couple.”

The river cruise docents are eagerly anticipating the return to the river on April 17. More than 100 volunteers are reviewing cruise content, practicing their presentations and refamiliarizing themselves with our COVID-19 safety protocols to help keep guests healthy.

The river is waiting. The docents are ready to greet you. The boats are in tip-top shape. Welcome to the river!

–Constance Rajala

Hyper Green exhibit preview


NEW EXHIBIT: Hyper Green High-Rises

A new exhibit is coming to the CAC in early spring! View eight models of proposed energy-efficient skyscrapers designed by Harvard University Graduate School of Design students at this limited-time exhibit.

In a studio course titled “Zero Energy Residential High-Rise” co-taught by Chicago architect Gordon Gill and Harvard Professor Ali Malkawi, students were challenged to conceive of a tall building that generates at least as much power as it consumes. Class visits to Dubai and Shenzhen (prior to the COVID-19 lockdown) focused on environmentally friendly local building methods and passive energy solutions that could inspire supersized solutions for tall buildings.

The models are on loan for a limited time and will be on display in the John and Kathleen Buck Atrium near the CAC Box Office. Paid admission to the CAC galleries is not required to view this temporary exhibit. The studio and accompanying exhibit are generously sponsored by the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities. Stay tuned for more information!


The Evolution Of School Design In Chicago
Wednesday, April 28 at noon

From historic buildings that escaped the Chicago Fire of 1871 to stunning contemporary designs, explore how Chicago's schools have been adapted for today's needs.

School design program

This program is supported by a gift of the Gary family in memory of Myra Gary and in honor of the Docents’ 50th Anniversary.

Film Screening & Discussion: “The Shame Of Chicago”
Thursday, May 13 at 5:30pm

Join us for an exclusive screening of Episode 3 of Bruce Orenstein’s new documentary series, The Shame of Chicago, exploring predatory contract home sales in Chicago after World War II. Moderated discussion to follow.

Film screening program


Girls Build!
Girls Build!

Girls Build! at Maggie Daley Park

The CAC’s Girls Build! participants spent a beautiful spring day at Maggie Daley Park on March 21, enjoying the weather as they analyzed the landscape and practiced map reading skills. The girls worked through a self-guided research document as they cataloged their observations, focusing on accessibility, horticulture and wayfinding. Stay tuned for details about the summer 2021 Girls Build! sessions. Girls Build! is made possible through generous gifts from ArcelorMittal and Herman Miller Cares.


Throughout 2021, we’ll be celebrating the incredible 50th anniversary of the CAC’s docent program, launched in 1971. Our acclaimed river cruises, walking tours and, since last spring, online programs are all enriched by the dedication and expertise of CAC docents, who undergo extensive training and bring their abiding love for Chicago architecture to residents and visitors alike.

This month, we're saying "Thank you!" to all our docents and volunteers and highlighting the work they do. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.

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Stay tuned for additional installments of “Looking Up,” contributed by our docents, in future issues of CAC@Home.


Select CAC walking tour departures are now available for purchase. Please note that advance reservations and face coverings are required for all CAC walking tours. Those who attend CAC walking tours departing through April may request vouchers for complimentary Center admission once exhibits reopen in May. Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruises aboard Chicago’s First Lady will resume on April 17, 2021. All CAC tour attendees are prompted to acknowledge and accept the CAC’s safety policies supporting recommendations from public health officials from the CDC, the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago. Located at 111 East Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, the Center remains temporarily closed to visitors.

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