Last November, I went to Chicago for the Open House Chicago weekend. Open House is a big event in Chicago that opens the doors to many places that are not usually open to the public: offices, high vantage points, exclusive club, residential buildings. And the best part is that it’s free!
Bear with me here because there are a lot of photos! You’ll understand why it took me a while to post-process these. We saw a lot of things in 2 days and I can say it’s one of the best ways to see the city!
There are some long lines at some of the places, so I recommend to become a member of the Chicago Architecture Foundation (which organizes the event). For $70, you can bring someone with you and skip the lines. On top of that, you get access to special tours for one year. It makes sense, especially if you live in Chicago or are planning to come back soon. And, in any case, you’d be contributing to the foundation, which does a lot for architecture.
The Kemper Building sits along the Chicago River and offers some great views. Open House let us go to the top floor, where an observatory used to be open to the public. It looked like it had been renovated and I hope it will re-open soon.
Since the building is in the middle of the city, you get a lot of views in-between other buildings, which is pretty cool!
The building is right across the Chicago River from the AMA building, designed by Mies van der Rohe. The perspective is striking!
DIRTT Environmental Solutions
DIRTT manufactures and designs highly customized interiors. They opened their office during Open House and I got inspired by abstracts and details.
We stopped by the Sky-Line Club, a very exclusive club with a lounge at the top of the Republic Building on Michigan Avenue. It has some beautiful views of the city.
I loved the view over the neighboring plaza. The landscaping looked like abstract shapes from above.
This recent residential tower opened its amenities to the public during Open House Chicago, including a rooftop terrace with a jacuzzi and amazing views.
I got inspired by a reflection on the other side of the building.
The Aon Center is the third tallest building in Chicago, but it does not have an observatory at the top. Interestingly, the 71st floor is an empty floor, used as a model floor for prospective tenants. At this height, the view over the city is simply stunning. It might just be my favorite spot from Open House Chicago, though it was tough shooting through the narrow windows.
The Aon Center is right next to Millennium Park and I think it’s the best place in the city to shoot the park.
I also grabbed some close up shots of some of the landmarks of the park.
The views to the East and to the North are not bad either:
AMA Building – Perkins + Will offices
Several architectural firms had their doors open to the public, including Perkins + Will, whose offices are in the AMA building. The building is at an interesting spot along the river, and you can look towards the lake above the river:
It is also right across the street from the Trump Tower.
Designed by Burnham and Root, the Rookery is one of the most interesting buildings in Chicago. Unfortunately, it was also one of the most popular. As you can see below, there was a huge line (that could not be skipped with a CAF membership), just to photograph the staircase (you couldn’t actually go further up).
Instead of trying to shoot the staircase, I focused on some architectural details of the ceiling.
We went to Union Station more as an afterthought, because we were nearby, but I got some interesting shots I think.
The ceiling had an interesting geometry:
The staircase really got me inspired:
Thank you for reading through this. I really hope you enjoyed the images. I strongly recommend visiting Chicago during Open House, to get some more unique views of the city. And if you live in Chicago, you really have no excuses!