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A long space with high ceilings, polished stone floors, tall windows, and rectangular chandeliers.
The restored lobby of Chicago’s old Post Office.
Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Architecture Center

The 12 best downtown spots to see at Open House Chicago

It’s hard to choose only a dozen

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The restored lobby of Chicago’s old Post Office.
| Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Architecture Center

If touring Chicago’s best sacred spaces isn’t your thing, you can take a stroll downtown to find plenty of other intriguing spots during Open House Chicago on October 19 and 20. Although this year’s event expands to 38 neighborhoods, the Loop remains a popular destination for its concentration of OHC sites and access stunning high-rise views.

There are nearly 70 to choose from—ranging from architecture firms to apartment buildings to historic lobbies—so you are bound to find something that fits your taste. Curbed Chicago spoke with Eric Rogers, OHC and community outreach manager for the Chicago Architecture Center, to highlight some of the can’t-miss downtown locations.

This year’s OHC weekend includes access to more than 350 of the city’s historic churches, ornate performance spaces, and hidden cultural gems. To help plan your weekend, the Chicago Architecture Center lists all of the sites on their website and lets you filter by category. It even tells you which spots are expected to have the longest lines.

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1. 1 North Dearborn

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1 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 989-1950
Visit Website

“Totally new to the event this year,” Rogers said of the 1917 building. “This historic department store building was repositioned as new offices with an enormous rooftop amenity.” Visitors will be able to walk out on that rooftop, which features a bar, fireplace, lounge, and garden. You’ll also see a mural, which is a tribute to its former tenant, the Boston Co. department store.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

2. 231 S LaSalle St

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231 S LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 456-0911
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This address is a two-fer: you’ll have access to the Central Standard Building and Wintrust’s Grand Banking Hall. A mix of neoclassical and Gothic Revival architecture with Art Deco influences, the Central Standard Building is directly across from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. It is also worth noting that in 1883, this is the site where the United States was divided into time zones in what was the former Grand Pacific Hotel. At OHC you’ll be able to see Grand Banking Hall and the expansive basement vaults.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3. 333 N. Michigan Ave

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333 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 726-8333
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“An Art Deco tower at Michigan and Wacker,” Rogers said. “We listed the building for its fourth-floor amenities space. Visitors can also go to Eastlake Studio Architecture firm.” People like Frank Lloyd Wright, Carl Sandburg, and William Wrigley would once frequent the building’s Tavern Club,

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

4. James M. Nederlander Theatre

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24 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 977-1700
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Usually only open to the public during performances, you’ll be able to go into the former Oriental Theatre to see the lobby and main level of the auditorium. Built in 1926, it was once a motion picture palace and also hosted stage shows. Notable performers include the Three Stooges, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, and Duke Ellington. 

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

5. Chicago Architecture Center

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111 E Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 922-8687
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Headquarters for OHC, the Chicago Architecture Center will offer free access to visitors during the weekend. Head inside the nonprofit’s doors to find the Chicago City Model Experience and the Building Tall exhibit with large-scale models of notable skyscrapers, and more.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

6. Chicago Post Office

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433 W Van Buren St
Chicago, IL 60607

Visitors to this once-vacant Art Deco gem will have access to the historic building’s restored and modernized lobby. The building, which is currently undergoing a $600 million adaptive reuse project, was built in 1921 and is set to become 2.8 million square feet of office space for companies like Walgreens and Uber.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

7. Essex on the Park

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808 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 872-5829
Visit Website

In this new residential tower designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, visitors will get a chance to see its four-story winter garden, which boasts an indoor infinity pool and balcony overlooking Grant Park. This is also the first building in Chicago to receive WELL Certification for healthy living.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

8. Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park

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201 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 742-1168
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Rogers said visitors at Frank Gehry’s outdoor music pavilion will be able to get on the stage. “We are having a family festival activities and programming some performances, as well. It’ll be a good time.” The grid of curved steel pipes above is not just for show—it holds speakers so that there are no columns on the ground to obstruct views.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from noon to 4 p.m.

9. Ross Barney Architects

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10 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 832-0600
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Rogers called this space, “very idiosyncratic and a lot of fun.” This 1883 warehouse was formerly owned by Chicago architect Harry Weese and is now the studio where Ross Barney Architects designed the Chicago Riverwalk and McDonald’s Chicago flagship store. Visitors will get to see 3D models, building fragments, and other exhibits related to past projects.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from noon to 4 p.m.

10. Sky-Line Club

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307 N Michigan Ave 24 Floor Penthouse
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 782-4833
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If you are headed to OHC for the views, this might be the place for you. “This is a really exciting site and very popular,” Rogers said. “It’s a private club on top of the Old Republic Building on Michigan Avenue. It has an outdoor terrace with a good view and an old-world, homey and comfortable atmosphere.” The old world description is quite literal—the pub was deconstructed and brought over from the Sussex region of England.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

11. The Alfred

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30 E Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603
(855) 443-5287
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This 176-unit apartment building in the Loop will be available to CAC members only. “They will be showing model units and letting members go to the rooftop amenity level and lounge. It’s a treat to see it.” The building opened as offices in 1925 and much of it was preserved in this recent adaptive reuse project.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (members only)

12. One Two Pru

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180 N Stetson Ave
Chicago, IL 60601

Rogers said that visitors here will get to see the eleventh floor amenity that connects to an outdoor deck overlooking Millennium Park. “The views are great, even if weather is not great.” This is because it is low enough that the clouds shouldn’t block things. One Pru is a 41-story, Art Deco-influenced modernist building that had the highest roof in the city when it was built in 1951. Two Pru is its neighboring skyscraper that was completed in 1990. Swing by the brand-new 31st-floor offices of the architecture firm Sheehan Nagle Hartray, which will also be open to visitors.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1. 1 North Dearborn

1 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60602

“Totally new to the event this year,” Rogers said of the 1917 building. “This historic department store building was repositioned as new offices with an enormous rooftop amenity.” Visitors will be able to walk out on that rooftop, which features a bar, fireplace, lounge, and garden. You’ll also see a mural, which is a tribute to its former tenant, the Boston Co. department store.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60602

2. 231 S LaSalle St

231 S LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60604

This address is a two-fer: you’ll have access to the Central Standard Building and Wintrust’s Grand Banking Hall. A mix of neoclassical and Gothic Revival architecture with Art Deco influences, the Central Standard Building is directly across from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. It is also worth noting that in 1883, this is the site where the United States was divided into time zones in what was the former Grand Pacific Hotel. At OHC you’ll be able to see Grand Banking Hall and the expansive basement vaults.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

231 S LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60604

3. 333 N. Michigan Ave

333 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60601

“An Art Deco tower at Michigan and Wacker,” Rogers said. “We listed the building for its fourth-floor amenities space. Visitors can also go to Eastlake Studio Architecture firm.” People like Frank Lloyd Wright, Carl Sandburg, and William Wrigley would once frequent the building’s Tavern Club,

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

333 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60601

4. James M. Nederlander Theatre

24 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

Usually only open to the public during performances, you’ll be able to go into the former Oriental Theatre to see the lobby and main level of the auditorium. Built in 1926, it was once a motion picture palace and also hosted stage shows. Notable performers include the Three Stooges, Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, and Duke Ellington. 

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

24 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601

5. Chicago Architecture Center

111 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601

Headquarters for OHC, the Chicago Architecture Center will offer free access to visitors during the weekend. Head inside the nonprofit’s doors to find the Chicago City Model Experience and the Building Tall exhibit with large-scale models of notable skyscrapers, and more.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

111 E Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60601

6. Chicago Post Office

433 W Van Buren St, Chicago, IL 60607

Visitors to this once-vacant Art Deco gem will have access to the historic building’s restored and modernized lobby. The building, which is currently undergoing a $600 million adaptive reuse project, was built in 1921 and is set to become 2.8 million square feet of office space for companies like Walgreens and Uber.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

433 W Van Buren St
Chicago, IL 60607

7. Essex on the Park

808 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

In this new residential tower designed by Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, visitors will get a chance to see its four-story winter garden, which boasts an indoor infinity pool and balcony overlooking Grant Park. This is also the first building in Chicago to receive WELL Certification for healthy living.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

808 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

8. Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park

201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601

Rogers said visitors at Frank Gehry’s outdoor music pavilion will be able to get on the stage. “We are having a family festival activities and programming some performances, as well. It’ll be a good time.” The grid of curved steel pipes above is not just for show—it holds speakers so that there are no columns on the ground to obstruct views.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from noon to 4 p.m.

201 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601

9. Ross Barney Architects

10 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654

Rogers called this space, “very idiosyncratic and a lot of fun.” This 1883 warehouse was formerly owned by Chicago architect Harry Weese and is now the studio where Ross Barney Architects designed the Chicago Riverwalk and McDonald’s Chicago flagship store. Visitors will get to see 3D models, building fragments, and other exhibits related to past projects.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from noon to 4 p.m.

10 W Hubbard St
Chicago, IL 60654

10. Sky-Line Club

307 N Michigan Ave 24 Floor Penthouse, Chicago, IL 60601

If you are headed to OHC for the views, this might be the place for you. “This is a really exciting site and very popular,” Rogers said. “It’s a private club on top of the Old Republic Building on Michigan Avenue. It has an outdoor terrace with a good view and an old-world, homey and comfortable atmosphere.” The old world description is quite literal—the pub was deconstructed and brought over from the Sussex region of England.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

307 N Michigan Ave 24 Floor Penthouse
Chicago, IL 60601

11. The Alfred

30 E Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603

This 176-unit apartment building in the Loop will be available to CAC members only. “They will be showing model units and letting members go to the rooftop amenity level and lounge. It’s a treat to see it.” The building opened as offices in 1925 and much of it was preserved in this recent adaptive reuse project.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (members only)

30 E Adams St
Chicago, IL 60603

12. One Two Pru

180 N Stetson Ave, Chicago, IL 60601

Rogers said that visitors here will get to see the eleventh floor amenity that connects to an outdoor deck overlooking Millennium Park. “The views are great, even if weather is not great.” This is because it is low enough that the clouds shouldn’t block things. One Pru is a 41-story, Art Deco-influenced modernist building that had the highest roof in the city when it was built in 1951. Two Pru is its neighboring skyscraper that was completed in 1990. Swing by the brand-new 31st-floor offices of the architecture firm Sheehan Nagle Hartray, which will also be open to visitors.

Open Saturday, October, 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

180 N Stetson Ave
Chicago, IL 60601