Openhouse Chicago 2011

I’m so blog-hind! Had a super busy week, but wanted to get in ONE entry before the weekend sets in. It’s a bit of a cop out, but I’m going to post the link and text to the weekly blog I write for Inspirato. The upcoming Openhouse Chicago 2011 should not be missed! I’m still waiting to find out if I passed my background check for the jail tour, and can’t wait to see these cool indoor pools. Next week, I’ll blog about this and about a Chicago church tour I took last weekend, as well as talking about the piece I have this month in Spirit Magazine. Swear. But for now, check out the architectural offerings on tap here:

A Landmark Weekend: Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Openhousechicago 2011

– by Kate Silver for Photos by Caroline Stevens

Architecture tours of Chicago are one of the best ways to see the city, and this weekend I plan on wandering behind the scenes of some of the coolest spots in town. Chicago Architecture Foundation is hosting Openhousechicago 2011 (OHC) October 15-16, with access to more than 100 architecturally significant sites.

Even better—it’s all free; no tickets are necessary, and you plan your own itinerary.

Chicago Cultural Center

Many beloved buildings are on the tour, including green-thumb favorites like Garfield Park Conservatory, the bold and beautiful Jay Pritzker Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry, and the Ryan Education Center at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano.

But the itinerary I’m making for the weekend doesn’t involve tours of the Chicago Cultural Center, Willis (nee Sears) Tower or the Newberry Library (although those are amazing buildings, too). I’m taking advantage of the spaces that aren’t usually open to architectural voyeurs.

Here’s my list:

The Cook County Jail and Courthouse tour (subject to a background screening). This massive complex takes up nearly one square mile near Little Village. The limited Saturday and Sunday tours focus on neoclassical designed buildings by architects Hall, Lawrence & Ratcliffe. Adorned in Indiana limestone and punctuated by enormous columns and carved figures, the tour includes a courtroom that hasn’t been touched since 1929, the detainee day room and a photo exhibit.

Emil Bach House

The Emil Bach House. This Prairie-style house, located in Rogers Park, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1915 and is not usually open to the public.

Two apartments (Park Castle #2 and Park Gables #1) in the Rogers Park neighborhoods that have whimsical indoor pools on the first floor.

Lake Point Tower. This massive, Y-shaped tower, designed by George Schipporeit and John Heinrich, who studied under the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, rises high over Lake Michigan and boasts a two-acre rooftop garden, which is only open to the public during OHC.

Uncommon Grounds. Visit the first certified organic rooftop farm, located atop Uncommon Grounds restaurant, and then head downstairs and enjoy a farm-fresh meal.

Kate Silver is a freelance writer living in Chicago. She writes regularly for Spirit and Midwest Living magazines, as well as Chicago Tribune and other local publications. To read more, go to


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