The new Chicago Architecture Center is spectacular

The new Chicago Architecture Center is spectacular
The ribbon cutting for the new CAC Center. Photo: Carole Kuhrt Brewer

A new space and a new name, the former Chicago Architectural Foundation (CAF) is now the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) and has moved to a new location

Be ready to be wowed at the Chicago Architecture Center’s new digs at 111 East Wacker Drive. The 20,000-square-foot-center designed by the world-renowned Chicago-based architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is a not to be missed destination.

The space offers a launching pad for discovering not only Chicago’s architectural landscape but a look at architectural marvels from around the world.

The public grand opening featuring a series of special events is this weekend, August 31 through Labor Day  (September 3). See bottom of post for Grand Opening ticket information.

Here’s what’s not to be missed:

The Chicago Model

The Chicago Model. Photo" Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The Chicago Model. Photo” Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

You may remember the Chicago Model in the lobby of the former CAF building–the wonderful small scale replica of 1300 Chicago buildings and landmarks.

The expanded model located in The Chicago Gallery on the lower level of the new CAC building now features over 4000 buildings that have been created through state-of-the-art 3D printing.

A film and light show illuminates the model telling Chicago’s story from its birth, its early growth, the Chicago fire, the world’s first-ever skyscraper (the 10-story Home Insurance Building) to today’s modernistic masterpieces.

Interactive touch screens are located around the edges of the model where visitors can track buildings, landmarks, neighborhoods and conduct searches for buildings by architect and style.

Out the Window

View out the window from the Skyscraper Gallery in the CAC. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

View out the window from the Skyscraper Gallery in the CAC. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The Drake Family Skyscraper Gallery on the main level of the CAC, features supersized models of famous skyscrapers from Chicago and around the world. Floor to ceiling glass windows look north over the Chicago river and the Chicago skyline.

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

A panel in front of the windows gives visitors information on the six major sites that can be viewed from the windows: the Wrigley Building, the Equitable Building, the Apple Store, the Tribune Building, NBC Tower and the Michigan Avenue/DuSable Bridge.

Around the Gallery, visitors will find information about design and architecture while viewing models from the past and the future including what was once the world’s tallest building Willis (Sears Tower) to the next world’s tallest building- the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia (designed in Chicago).

Take a peek into the Future

From Me to We: Imagining the City of 2050, on the main level of the Architecture Center, offers illuminating scenarios of what life may look like in Chicago 2050.


Tickets for all 85 tours offered by the CAC, including Chicago’s First Lady boat tour, can be purchased on the lower level of the CAC (starting September 4). Be sure to check out the large map on the wall that introduces visitors to their tour route before starting out.

The CAC Store

The amazing, award-winning CAC store has moved to the new space offering wonderful merchandise for architecture and design enthusiasts as well as many Chicago-themed gifts.

Grand Opening Weekend

To visit the CAC opening weekend, you can either purchase a CAC Exhibit Voucher online or you can purchase an admission ticket at the CAC Box Office upon your arrival.

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Filed under: Art., Chicago Tourism.

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