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About Open House Chicago

Have you ever walked by a building and thought, I wish I could see what's inside?

The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago (OHC) is the city’s annual architecture festival. For one weekend in October you can explore Chicago’s most iconic and unique architectural treasures. From mansions to sacred spaces, theaters to private clubs, hotels to secret rooms—OHC gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at many of the city’s great places and spaces that are rarely, if ever, open to the public.

Here’s your chance to venture into new neighborhoods, learn the stories of Chicago’s buildings and experience the diversity and culture of each community.

OHC is completely free-of-charge—no registration or tickets are needed. So gather your friends, plan your itinerary and mark your calendar for October 15-16, 2016!

Stay in the know

  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter #OHC2016
  • Subscribe to OHC e-news for the latest announcements and important updates.
  • Check out Topics & News to track the making of OHC. You'll learn about the people connected with the sites you’ll visit and get a behind-the-scenes look at how we go about planning this amazing event.
  • CAF members receive priority access to OHC sites and special members-only sites. Join today for an enhanced OHC experience and great year-round CAF benefits.

Frequently asked questions

What is Open House Chicago?

OHC is a free annual festival presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation that offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 200 buildings across Chicago. OHC is part of the Open House Worldwide network of events now spanning more than 20 cities on four continents.

When is Open House Chicago?

OHC is an annual festival held one weekend every October. In 2016, OHC will be on Saturday and Sunday, October 15-16 from 9am-5pm. Times vary depending on specific sites. The full list of participating sites will be available in September.

Who organizes Open House Chicago?

In 2011, OHC began as a new initiative of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, a non-profit cultural institution that offers tours, exhibitions, programs, and events for all ages. CAF’s mission is to inspire people to discover why design matters.

OHC is organized in partnership with community development and cultural organizations across the city. These organizations provide critical support in such areas as site identification, program development, grassroots marketing, volunteer recruitment and on-site support during the event weekend. OHC is also made possible through the support of sponsors, donors and government agencies.

What kinds of sites are included in Open House Chicago and where are they located?

OHC is a citywide event that includes more than 200 sites located in 20 neighborhoods. The sites in these neighborhoods 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 and performance halls, 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. Browse the list of sites or see them on a map.

How do I plan my Open House Chicago weekend experience?

The best way to get up-to-date site information is on this mobile-friendly website. Our online itinerary planning tool allows you to collect and save sites you plan to visit. Just browse to a site and click the "add to itinerary" button to get started. Visitors can also pick up a copy of the OHC Event Guide in the October 13, 2016, issue of the Chicago Tribune. To stay up-to-date on the latest OHC developments, sign-up for our e-news.

What's the best way to navigate the city during Open House Chicago?

Divvy, Chicago's bike-sharing system, and CTA buses and trains are great modes of transit during OHC. CTA and Divvy work well when used together—take CTA from one community to another, then hop on a Divvy bike to navigate from one building to the next. Many sites are also within walking distance of one another. For sites not located along CTA routes, Metra train service is available. Some OHC neighborhoods have free or metered street parking.

What is a priority-access pass and who gets to go in the priority line?

OHC volunteers, CAF members, and OHC sponsors/VIPs will receive priority access to all sites. When enough people start to gather at a site—creating the need for lines—two lines will be formed: one for the general public and another, shorter line for volunteers, members and sponsors. To get a priority-access pass, become a CAF Member or volunteer for OHC.

What's involved in volunteering for Open House Chicago?

For details on the benefits and requirements of volunteering, visit the volunteer page