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A first look inside the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s new riverfront space

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The 20,000-square-foot Chicago Architecture Center is set to open on August 31

A rendering of the Chicago Architecture Center’s ‘Skyscraper Gallery.’
Chicago Architecture Foundation

As the Chicago Architecture Foundation puts the final touches on its new home at 111. E Wacker Drive, the nonprofit organization has released a fresh batch of renderings offering a sneak peek inside its upcoming facility.

Dubbed the Chicago Architecture Center, the Foundation’s new digs will occupy roughly 20,000 square feet at the base of Mies van der Rohe’s 1970 Illinois Center office complex when it opens on August 31.

The multi-level space will present visitors a chance to walk among oversized models of some of the globe’s most iconic towers in its Skyscraper Gallery. Meanwhile a Chicago-focused gallery will provide perspectives on the city’s architectural legacy—past, present, and future.

An expanded edition of the CAF’s famous scale model of Chicago will return with a new interactive light show. Chicago Architecture Foundation

An improved version of CAF’s popular downtown Chicago model will make its highly anticipated return. Expanded from 1,300 to 3,000 buildings, the three-dimensional display adds a new interactive light show illustrating the scope of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the city’s subsequent rebirth.

Designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture in collaboration with museum planning and design firm Gallagher & Associates, the new Chicago Architecture Center will also include a lecture hall, hands-on design workshops, classrooms, a gift shop, and a ticketing hub for the CAF’s various guided walking, bus, and riverboat tours.

“We can’t wait for people to visit the CAC and experience how Chicago architects have influenced the world through their innovation and vision,” said Lynn Osmond, CAF’s president and CEO, in a statement. “We’ve engineered a stimulating and immersive space where visitors can have fun discovering Chicago’s groundbreaking architecture—and appreciate its profound impact on the world.”

CAF announced plans to move from its long-time headquarters in Chicago’s Railway Exchange Building on South Michigan Avenue to its new riverfront home back in September of last year.

Chicago Architecture Foundation
Chicago Architecture Foundation
Chicago Architecture Foundation
Chicago Architecture Foundation
Chicago Architecture Foundation
Chicago Architecture Foundation