As I subscribe to more and more travel blogs, sometimes I learn things about my own hometown! On KatieAune.com, I read a post about Open House Chicago, an annual event hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. How had I never heard of this before? Apparently, a lot of cities host this event! I’m not particularly into architecture; I enjoy it, but don’t know anything about it. But I am into snooping around places that are usually off limits!
Rather than devoting a whole weekend, which I may do next year, I only visited a few sites, but it was a great way to spend the day!
First up, I visited two office locations in the AMA Plaza, on the river at Wabash. The first was Thornton Tomasetti, an engineering design firm on the 15th floor, with spectacular views towards the lakefront and Chicago River.
Similarly, Perkins + Will, an architecture firm on the 36th floor provided architects to give a tour of the offices. It was really fun to see all the little scale models of projects they are working on around the world, and the materials library. (We weren’t allowed any pictures of those) P + W takes up the entire floor, so we got 360 degree views of buildings like Trump Tower and Marina Towers.
(This is Trump Tower, supposedly the large patio belongs the condo of Chris Gardner, the man who “Pursuit of Happyness” was based on)
From here, it was back to street level, to an iconic building I’d seen many times, but knew nothing about. The Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist sits at the bend in Wacker Drive and is very unique. Again, we were given tours by a church member in the great auditorium, which was built for sound.
The room was an impressive size, although the 70’s avocado and gold velour could use an update! Audience participation, through testimonials, is a large part of services here, so rudimentary speakers, meant to help carry sound, are built into the back of each seat.
My 4th, and final, stop for the day was the McCormick Bridgehouse on the Chicago River. I wasn’t aware that the Chicago River Museum existed, so this is a spot you can perhaps visit at other times of year. The building itself is a very narrow corner of one bridge, that covers several floors, with exhibits along the way. You can see one of the large gears that is used to open the bridges when needed. I was mostly interested in the views over Michigan Avenue.
Obviously, this is a very small slice of the more than 200 buildings participating in Open House Chicago. This year, I stayed close to home, but am looking forward to 2016 when I will perhaps choose 2 different neighborhoods to explore on Saturday and Sunday.
Also, this seems like a really fun way to see other cities, so it’s something to look into when planning travel to other places like London or Glasgow.
Places I visited:
- Perkins + Will – AMA Plaza – 330 N Wabash Ave, Suite 3600
- Thornton Tomasetti – AMA Plaza – 330 N Wabash Ave, Suite 1500
- Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist – 55 E Wacker Drive
- McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum – 376 N Michigan Ave