Friday, October 18, 2013

Open House Chicago

This weekend, October 19th and 20th, the third annual Open House Chicago will take place. The event sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation was based upon a similar event that began in London nearly two decades ago. Buildings all over this city will open their doors and allow visitors to see parts of Chicago that are typically off limits the rest of the year.

I'll be busy giving tours of our own building, the Casa Bonita in Rogers Park, so I won't have the opportunity to take advantage of all the event has to offer.

But if I did, here's where I'd go, in no particular order:
  • The Auditorium Theater. OK this probably would be my first choice, you'll get to visit possibly the greatest interior in all of Chicago, maybe anywhere for that matter.
  • The building that replaced the Auditorium as Chicago's principle opera house, The Lyric Opera House, another grand interior especially if you like Art Deco.
  • McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum where you'll get to see the infrastructure of a thoroughly Chicago institution, one of the city's movable bascule bridges, smack dab in the epicenter of Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett's realized Plan of Chicago.
  • JAHN, the architecture firm founded by the controversial Helmut Jahn, its offices are located in the cupola of the Jewelers Building. You might not like the work of the frim but their offices are stunning. This touor is for CAF members only. 
  • Palmisano Park in Bridgeport, the site of the former Sterns Quarry. The tour will be led by members of the design team responsible for this magnificent park's creation.
  • Two businesses located on the site of the Old Stockyards, The Plant, a "net-zero energy vertical farm and food business operation" and Testa Produce, another fully sustainable food business featuring its gigantic wind-powered turbine. Unfortunately the tour of the Testa plant is no longer taking reservations. 
  • On the west side, Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, unquestionably one of the most beautiful, and historically significant Roman Catholic churches in Chicago.
  • Another church, this one I've always been curious about, Harvest Bible Chapel, formerly the Scottish Rite Cathedral in the Gold Coast, across from Bughouse Square and the Newberry Library. The church is one of the few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire. 
  • Also in the Gold Coast, the Charnley-Persky House, the work of Frank Lloyd Wright while he was under the employ of Louis Sullivan.
  • The Brewster Apartments, a highfalutin 1890s apartment building with another magnificent interior.
  • The Elks National Monument, a Classical Revival temple which was highly praised by John Drury in his book Chicago in Seven Days. (see my previous post).
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House in Hyde Park where you can save the money on the regularly scheduled tours and see the inside for free.
  • KAM Isaiah Israel, a gorgeous synagogue in Hyde Park/Kenwood.
  • You can save yourself another tour fee by visiting H.H.Richardson's Glessner House, the great architect's only surviving Chicago building.
  • In South Shore, the former St. Constantine Greek Orthodox Church, now the Mosque Maryam, modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
Whew! I could go on and on but I've run out of time, and you will too, there's simply too much to see this weekend and far too little time. Most of these buildings are generally not open to the public. Churches and temples of course are open during services so you might plan to visit them some other time. Check out the Open House Chicago website and plan your visits accordingly. 

And have a great weekend.

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