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Open House Chicago 2017: The best new sites

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The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Eric Allix Rogers highlights what’s new and noteworthy for this year’s event

The lobby at 150 North Riverside
Nick Fochtman

The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s popular Open House Chicago event, a weekend-long series that opens up Chicago’s greatest building to the public, returns once again this weekend. And like last year, the Chicago Architecture Foundation will feature over 200 different sites throughout the city and nearby suburbs.

There are a lot of new additions and debuts in this year’s Open House Chicago, and to help us navigate the list, Interim Open House Chicago Manager Eric Allix Rogers has highlighted 25 new sites that visitors should consider when making their lists for this weekend’s event.

Here’s a quick look at what’s new for this year’s Open House Chicago. For a complete list of partner sites and schedules, head on over to the official Open House Chicago website.


150 North Riverside’s wildly contemporary exterior facade.

Downtown

150 North Riverside: Completed just this spring, the brand new office tower at 150 N. Riverside makes its Open House Chicago debut this year. In addition to exploring the tower’s uniquely shaped lobby, visitors will also have access to a raw, open office level this weekend. Complex structural engineering allowed for the tower’s seemingly gravity-defying shape, making 150 North Riverside an instant Chicago icon.

330 North Wabash: Open House Chicago visitors will be able to visit a full, raw level at this iconic modernist tower from legendary architect Mies van der Rohe. Rogers states that the river views are “spectacular” from the tower—which for many years served as IBM’s Chicago home.

East-West University’s Student Life Center: This new building at East-West University’s downtown campus features a unique six-story interior atrium which functions as a kind of “vertical campus,” Rogers explains. Designed by historic Chicago architecture firm Holabird & Root, the building features academic and athletic spaces which OHC attendees will be able to get a glimpse of.

The recently restored Rosenwald Courts development in Bronzeville.
Eric Allix Rogers

Bronzeville

Armour Institute: The original Armour Institute building, also known to many as IIT’s Main Building, is about to undergo a major renovation and conversion into new apartments. According to Rogers, architects from Pappageorge Haymes Partners will be on-site during Open House Chicago to discuss the project in the lead up to its overhaul.

First Church of Deliverance: This unusual church comes from the period of Streamline/Art Moderne architecture of the late 1920s. It’s a rare example of a place of worship done in the style and visitors will be able to get a look inside this weekend.

NEIU Carruthers Center: “This may be our deepest Frank Lloyd Wright cut this year,” Rogers explains. The building is notable for being Frank Lloyd Wright’s first non-residential commission. Wright was both hired and fired by his uncle, and the job was eventually passed to Dwight Perkins to finish. Rogers indicates that auditorium shares some similarities to Wright’s famous Unity Temple in Oak Park, though the Carruthers Center predates Unity Temple by nearly a decade.

Rosenwald Courts: A philanthropic gift from Sears Roebuck magnate Julius Rosenwald, the old Rosenwald Courts Apartments recently wrapped up an award-winning restoration that saw the 1920s housing complex completely refreshed and rehabilitated. OHC visitors will be able to get a first look at the complex fully restored and occupied and will have access to amenities such as the lounge and interior courtyard which are typically not open to the public.

Schulze Baking Company Building: Currently a vacant structure, Rogers indicates that the building’s owner is looking to redevelop the historic industrial facility into a data center—a contemporary adaptive reuse that shows how Chicago’s industrial building stock can still perform in the information age.

Eric Allix Rogers

Edgewater

Chicago Filmmakers (Ridge Firehouse): Open House Chicago attendees will have access to the brand new Chicago Filmmakers outpost in Edgewater. Located in the former Ridge Firehouse, the facility features offices, classrooms, and will eventually include a theater with seating for 75 people.

The breathtaking Baha’i House of Worship.
Eric Allix Rogers

North Suburbs

Bahá'í House of Worship: “The Bahá'í House of Worship is a site that people have been asking about for years,” explains Rogers. The ornate structure finally makes its Open House Chicago debut this year. Rogers adds that this year is especially significant, being the bicentennial celebration of the founding of the Bahá'í faith. In addition, visitors will be allowed to take photos inside the building, which generally is not permitted.

Ryan Field: Northwestern University’s football stadium also makes its Open House Chicago debut this year. According to Rogers, it’ll be the first of any outdoor athletic stadium featured as a site in Open House Chicago. “People will be able to walk up to the field and explore the press box, which I think is really cool,” Rogers says.

The Art Deco-era Powhatan tower.
Eric Allix Rogers

Hyde Park

Regents Park Apartments: OHC attendees will have access to this set of modernist apartment towers in the Hyde Park community. Rogers indicates that visitors will be able to explore the large private outdoor garden between the towers—a private amenity for residents that is not typically open to the public.

Powhatan: Described as “the most remarkable Art Deco multifamily residential building in Chicago” by Rogers, the Powhatan is certainly a unique time-capsule-quality residential tower. “It’s an absolutely stunning building and it’s usually locked up pretty tightly,” Rogers adds. Visitors will be able to explore the lobby and pool area this weekend during Open House Chicago.

The Congress Theater in Logan Square.
Alex Fradkin

Logan Square/Avondale

Aloft Circus Arts: For the first time, this year’s Open House Chicago will feature a number of sites around Logan Square and Avondale, including the new Aloft Circus Arts which Rogers describes as a “very unique adaptive reuse of a church building.”

Congress Theater: Logan Square’s old Congress Theater formally shuttered three years ago to allow for a major renovation that would not only restore its historic auditorium, but also deliver new hotel rooms and residences to the stretch of Milwaukee Avenue. Architects from Woodhouse Tinucci will be on-hand this weekend to discuss the project with OHC attendees.

L Logan Square: One of the many new apartment developments for Milwaukee Avenue, L Logan Square will open its doors this weekend to OHC attendees. Rogers says that this one is “for the transit nerds”—hinting at the project’s reuse of a decommissioned CTA rail car for its amenity deck and its status as a transit-oriented development.

Metropolis Coffee Company: “This is the first time we’re featuring a coffee roasting facility in Open House Chicago,” Rogers says in regards to Metropolis Coffee’s participation in this year’s edition. The Avondale facility is tucked away in a cluster of former industrial buildings that is quickly transforming into a larger food and beverage distribution district.

The brand new Publishing House Bed and Breakfast.
Eric Allix Rogers

Near West Side

UIC University Hall: While it’s not a new site to Open House Chicago, Rogers says that UIC’s University Hall was overlooked last year by many attendees. A prominent Brutalist high-rise, Rogers says that this is a good site “for people who love—or love to hate—Brutalism.”

Publishing House Bed & Breakfast: As the name would suggest, this new overnight offering is built in a former printing plant. The B&B pays homage to its past with a literary theme, Rogers explains.

Oak Park’s Cheney Mansion.
Eric Allix Rogers

Oak Park

Cheney Mansion: Eric Rogers describes the historic Cheney Mansion as “one of the most impressive non-Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Oak Park.” The mansion is generally used for private events, but OHC visitors will be able to get a thorough look through the house this weekend.

Chicago Scenic Studios

Pilsen

Chicago Scenic Studios: Though the Chicago Scenic Studios has previously been featured as a site during Open House Chicago, this year’s edition will allow visitors through the company brand new location in Pilsen. The organization, which fabricates film sets and exhibition displays, will allow visitors an inside look at the space and the items that they build.

Wintrust Arena

South Loop/Prairie District

Wintrust Arena: Coincidentally, Open House Chicago aligns with the grand opening of the brand new Wintrust Arena in the McCormick Place Entertainment District. This weekend will not only be the first time that the general public will have access to the building, but there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony taking place on center court at 1:00 p.m. this Saturday.

St. Helen Roman Catholic Church in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood.
Eric Allix Rogers

Ukrainian Village

St. Helen Church: Many of Ukrainian Village’s elaborate and ornate churches have been featured in previous editions of Open House Chicago, but this will be the first year that visitors will be able to explore St. Helen Roman Catholic Church. “It’s a very unique church built during the modernist period,” Rogers explains. “Its sanctuary is shaped like a fish and the aesthetic is like a mashup of Art Deco and Midcentury Modernism.”

The Art Deco courtyard at the 5040-5060 North Marine Drive condos.
Eric Allix Rogers

Uptown

5040-5060 North Marine Drive: Rogers highlights this residential complex in Uptown for its unique courtyard amenity. “It’s a residential building built around this hidden courtyard with an amazing Art Deco fountain in it,” Rogers tells us.

Wicker Park

The Robey: The old Northwest Tower in Wicker Park just reopened late last year as The Robey—a new boutique hotel offering. The hotel makes its Open House Chicago debut this year, allowing visitors to explore its rooftop cocktail lounge and outdoor deck space.