Architectural Treasures in My Town

This time, it’s about ARCHITECTURE!

And today I am reminding everyone that  this weekend is Open House Chicago presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  Doors will be open this weekend to visit varieties of buildings  from famous mansions to theatres, churches and office buildings from 9 to 5 Saturday and Sunday.  The open tour will spread from downtown to the corners of the city — probably your corner, too. 

Chicago is undoubtedly one of  THE iconic cites of the world when it comes to architecture. Along with our skyscrapers like Willis Tower, Trump Tower, Hancock Building, AON Building and the almost (but never)-built Spire, we are home to classic modern and brand-new buildings (commercial and residential) by architects Mies van de Rohe (860-880 N. Lake Shore Dr. among others), Mies’ students: Schipporeit & Heinrich (Lake Point Tower), Harry Weese, Stanley Tigerman, Bertrand Goldberg (Marina City) and —of course–Frank Lloyd Wright (Robie House in Hyde Park as well as so many other suburban treasures like the Unity Temple in Oak Park).

Larger firms like Skidmore, Owings and Merrill have continued to leave their impression on commercial buildings. Many of these firms create beautiful, memorable structures even though the individual architects are not known by most of the public.

We also have treasures of the Adler, Sullivan and the Richardsonian/Romanesque 19th C. era and the (historically  new) celebrity of the construction for the 1892 World’s Fair grounds written about in The Devil in the White City (which I bought as soon as I heard about it and devoured immediately…that’s my childhood turf). Our city of neighborhoods is a constant source of learning about the bungalow-style as we walk or ride around. How about walking around for just one hour to see what’s downtown?

Now that the Marathon barriers are removed, and we can get around to all of the streets, it’s a fantastic time of year for an Architectural Tour of this gorgeous city.  Then, look up the various types of tours from the Chicago Architectural Foundation, with some changes for fall:  Boat, Bus and Walking Tours, some shortened…and some to the suburbs to see historical areas in Highland Park and other places. They also offer fascinating lectures and lunchtime activities.


As the daughter and wife of architects and with my own background in History of Art and Architecture, I feel lucky to live in a city with such a deep architectural story to share. No, it’s not Boston from 1770, but the post-Chicago Fire buildings are amazing.  Probably 70% of the hideous construction of the past 10 or 15 years will not help Chicago’s continuing legacy, but the new Trump Tower, the Modern Wing at the Art Institute and the amazing Aqua Tower will undoubtedly overshadow all those bland stumpy grayish-brown mid-rises.

Check out my very own pix from a Boat Tour.  They are NOT  “photo shopped” – that’s how gorgeous the city really is!

(PLEASE excuse any buildings and architects not mentioned!! There are so, so many and they are continuing to pop into my head, and this is getting longer and longer- this is completely extemporaneous writing!)


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