Your guide to Open House Chicago

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OCTOBER 20, 2020 • ISSUE 22

Open House Chicago


We hope you’re enjoying our Open House Chicago online programs and self-guided, outdoor tours! Download the OHC 2020 mobile app today to enjoy everything this 10th annual festival has to offer. There are still a dozen virtual programs scheduled over the next five days—here are two highlights, focused on landmark performance venues:



Chicago’s Central Park Theater and the Dawn of a New Era
Friday, October 23 at noon

Take a virtual tour of the former Central Park Theater in North Lawndale, a 1917 movie palace that marked the start of a fruitful partnership between architects Rapp and Rapp and theater corporation Balaban and Katz.

Theater program

If Walls Had Ears
Friday, October 23 at 7pm
General public $15
Students and CAC members $10,
CAC Industry Council and Donor Level members FREE

This special collection of virtual tours and brief performances brings attendees “into” spaces they wouldn’t ordinarily see at storied Chicago music venues, including the Avalon Regal Theater, The Forum, Thalia Hall and the Vic Theatre.

Music program
OHC app


Download the OHC 2020 mobile app to find and follow more than two dozen themed trails for self-guided exploration, through neighborhoods and suburbs from Evanston to Beverly. Choose from shorter trails you can walk in less than an hour, or take a full day to follow longer trails for biking and driving. Highlights include:

Bronzeville: Performance Spaces in the Black Metropolis

In line with the online programs above focused on theaters, this trail dives into the history of community convening and the performing arts, with audio commentary by Urban Juncture president Bernard Loyd and gospel historian Robert M. Marovich. “Performance Spaces in the Black Metropolis” is sponsored by ComEd.


Downtown: Lakeshore East

Before the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, the land from which Lakeshore East now rises didn’t even exist. Start in the award-winning Park at Lakeshore East to follow this trail through one of the country’s newest and tallest neighborhoods, with audio commentary by the late James Loewenberg of Magellan Development Group and Juliane Wolf of Studio Gang.

Lakeshore East

Logan Square: First Family Favorites

Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman narrate this guest-curated trail that includes adaptive reuse projects, historic homes, neighborhood parks and works of public art. Schedule your arrival around mealtime—they’ve got great restaurant recommendations, too.

Logan Square

Download and install the OHC 2020 mobile app on your Apple or Android phone for the best experience. If you prefer not to use the app, you can access app-based content in your web browser at


During OHC 2020 alone, the benefits to CAC membership include extra online programs and discounts on even more. The perks continue year-round with FREE Center admission and public walking tours. Become a CAC member by October 25 and be entered to win a fabulous Chicago getaway with LondonHouse Chicago hotel accommodations and a private tour of the soon-to-be-completed Vista Tower—the city’s new third-tallest skyscraper.

River cruise


All aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises! Our top-rated tours along the Chicago River continue this fall and those with young ones can book a “Sunday Family Field Trip” aboard select river cruise departures. With seating limited to allow for safe distancing, these boats fill up fast!

“Sunday Family Field Trip” river cruises are available only for Sunday cruise departures at 10:30am and 1pm. Get one FREE ticket for students 14 years or younger with the purchase of each standard adult ticket at full price, plus special activities and a FREE sandwich for students with each purchase of an adult meal (limit two), redeemable day-of at The Northman Beer & Cider Garden on the Chicago Riverwalk. Please visit Ticketmaster to view availability. This special promotion cannot be used in combination with other offers or discounts.



The Boundary-Breaking Designs of Jeanne Gang
Monday, November 2 at 6pm

Over more than 20 years of practice, Studio Gang founding principal and partner Jeanne Gang has challenged the presumed limitations on architects in order to create stunning places that enhance local identity, community and urban sustainability.

Jeanne Gang program

Photo by Tom Harris

Please note: Those who booked tickets to The Boundary-Breaking Designs of Jeanne Gang on its original date, June 22, do not need to re-register for this program, now rescheduled and offered online. Details will be sent to the email used for the initial registration.

CAC Live online programs resume this fall and winter after OHC. Stay tuned for more information, dates and times.


Family walking tours


Get some fresh air and exercise while you take a break from screen time: Family Walking Tours are available for groups of up to six, led by CAC Education staff and just $99! These special, safe experiences share secrets and stories behind some of the city’s most famous buildings—all just steps away from the Center at 111 East Wacker Drive. With content curated specifically for learners ages 8 and up, the whole family will discover how Chicago grew and why it became a global capital for great architecture. Choose from Chicago Architecture Basics, 1893 World’s Fair or Chicago: City on the Move. Contact CAC Group Sales today to get started!

Family walking tours are offered seven days a week and subject to availability. Book via email to The CAC’s safety policies for walking tours apply to all private and custom tours as well, including the wearing of face coverings by all attendees.

in memoriam

The Chicago Architecture Center mourns the recent passing of James Loewenberg, chairman emeritus of Magellan Development Group and, for many years, a close and generous friend of the CAC.

“The impact that Jim had on downtown Chicago’s residential communities is undeniable and his contribution of Lakeshore East has forever changed Chicago,” said CAC President and CEO Lynn Osmond to Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune.

While he is dearly missed, the CAC is honored that Open House Chicago includes audio narration from an interview with Loewenberg this summer. Please take a moment to learn more about his contributions and personal reflections by investigating the Downtown Neighborhood Trail: Lakeshore East, and read more about Loewenberg’s life and work in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business.


Unfortunate but necessary contractions in tourism have greatly diminished the CAC’s ability to earn revenue. Open House Chicago, the largest annual architecture festival in North America, is almost entirely free as a gift to the city during this challenging time. We continue to support educators and students learning from home through curricular resources and family activities. Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to the CAC today, to help us continue to weather this crisis.

The Chicago Architecture Center, including all exhibits and the CAC Design Store, is open Saturday and Sunday from 10am–4pm. CAC building and neighborhood walking tours, departing from locations other than the Center at 111 E. Wacker Dr. and offered through December 2020, will be available for purchase on the 15th of the month prior to the month of the scheduled departure.

The CAC remains committed to providing the safest possible experience for its entire community of members, staff, visitors, volunteers and tour attendees. All Center visitors and CAC tour attendees are prompted to acknowledge and accept the CAC’s safety policies supporting recommendations from public health officials from the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago.

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