On October 13 and 14, over 250 sites within the Chicago area that are typically closed off to the public or have an admission fee will be free for people to explore. Open House Chicago (OHC) is a festival put on annually by the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC). The event isn’t just limited to the downtown areas of the city. It branches out to more than 30 neighborhoods, including Beverly, Evanston, Hyde Park, Lincoln Square, Oak Park, Garfield Park and many more.
While most sites are open to anyone, there are a select few that are only able to be viewed by those who have a “Priority Access pass.” This is because some sites become extremely crowded, so their entry requires more control. Those who have this pass also have priority once they arrive at each site and will be allowed entry faster to explore. In order to receive a “Priority Access pass,” one must become a CAC Member or volunteer for OHC. The event relies heavily on the around 2000 volunteers who greet people and manage the different areas during the weekend. You can sign up to be a volunteer on the OHC website: https://openhousechicago.org/
The website also lists all information about the different sites that will be available for viewing. Within the more than 30 neighborhoods included in OHC, there is a large range of different locations one can see. As the OHC website states, “sites reflect the cultural diversity and history of Chicago, as well as the unique character of each community. Locations include private clubs, residential spaces, offices, hotels, theaters, design/architecture studios, schools and places of worship as well as manufacturing, cultural and government facilities. This diverse selection of sites allows visitors to plan an itinerary according to their own specific interests.”
This event is one that Illinois Tech students have participated in for many years. OHC includes many places within the Bronzeville and Bridgeport areas that surround Illinois Tech’s campus. Dr. Elizabeth Friedman, who teaches “Global Chicago,” a class that requires students to explore different areas of Chicago and learn about their history, encourages students to attend the event every year. With such a strong architecture student presence on campus, many students enjoy the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes of some of the most unique spaces within the city. Open House events are not limited to the city of Chicago. There are festivals run by Open House all across the globe. As the website explains, “Open House started in London in 1992 and launched in the United States in 2002 with Open House New York. Now, more than 30 cities around the world have adopted Open House, creating the first global architecture festival reaching more than 1 million people.” So, if you can’t make the Open House in Chicago, perhaps you will find one in another city you happen to visit.