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About Open House Chicago

Every October, the Chicago Architecture Center is proud to host Open House Chicago—a free public festival that offers self-guided history and architecture trails throughout Chicago, talks and programming, and behind-the-scenes access to architecturally, historically and culturally significant sites across the city.

Open House Chicago remains one of the largest events of its kind in the world. This year's in-person site visits occur on October 16 and 17, with extended programming and city-wide trails available for the entire month of October.

This year's program highlights more than 30 Chicago neighborhoods, North Shore suburbs and Oak Park, with 30 trails for self-guided, outdoor exploration on themes including community engagement, green spaces, historic preservation, residential architecture and more. OHC 2021 also includes a broad array of talks and virtual programs, as well as tips and itineraries for exploring shopping, dining, and other attractions in each neighborhood.

OHC 2021 features a return of the OHC App with extended content you can find nowhere else.

Stay in the know

  • Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • Subscribe to our e-news for the latest announcements and important updates.
  • CAC members receive exclusive perks, including a free OHC 2021 preview program to help you make the most of this year's festival. Join today for an enhanced OHC experience and great year-round CAC benefits.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Open House Chicago?

Traditionally, Open House Chicago (OHC) is a free annual festival hosted by the Chicago Architecture Center that offers indoor access to buildings of architectural, cultural and historical significance. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, OHC 2020 was reimagined to support public health and safety, with a model including both online programs and self-guided, themed and outdoor tours available via the OHC mobile app. The festival was also expanded to cover the full month of October. 

OHC 2021 will be the best of both worlds; the OHC app, open October 1-31, will be coupled with the classic in-person, indoor, immersive experience the weekend of October 16-17.

Who organizes Open House Chicago?

Since 2011, the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) has produced each Open House Chicago festival. The CAC is a nonprofit cultural institution that offers tours, exhibitions, programs and events for all ages. The CAC’s mission is to inspire people to discover why design matters. The CAC collaborates with community partners (such as chambers of commerce, neighborhood organizations, arts and culture organizations and historical societies) each year to present Open House Chicago. OHC is also made possible through generous support from festival 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, with sites and events distributed throughout multiple neighborhoods, areas and select Chicago suburbs. OHC sites and neighborhoods represent the cultural diversity and dynamic history of Chicago, as well as the unique character of each community.

How are sites selected for inclusion in Open House Chicago?

CAC staff members curate OHC sites in accordance with multiple criteria. Site consideration and selection may also be informed by each year’s festival focus and themes. Proposals for site inclusion are not generally solicited. See links in the “Stay in the Know” section above to get timely updates about the CAC’s plans for OHC 2021.

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. Many sites and trails are typically located within walking distance of one another. For sites and trails not located along CTA routes, Metra train service is available. Some OHC neighborhoods have free or metered street parking.

What are OHC programs and how can I attend?

Beginning in 2020, CAC staff worked with OHC Community Partners to create a series of virtual programs that further explored participating neighborhoods. Programs highlighted the themes of architecture, Chicago's history, preservation and people and places. In 2021, OHC programs will take place throughout the month of October. They are virtual and will be free to the public. A complete listing of programs can be found here as they become available for the 2021 festival.

Which OHC benefits do CAC members receive?

CAC members receive exclusive benefits and discounts throughout OHC 2021. More information about specific discounts and benefits can be found here.

If you need a replacement membership card, please call the CAC Call Center at 312.922.8687 or email membership@architecture.org.

Are volunteers needed for Open House Chicago 2021?

Yes! Registration for volunteers is now open!

Are there Open House programs in other cities?

OHC is part of the Open House Worldwide family of related events. Open House started in London in 1992 and launched in the United States in 2002 with Open House New York. Now, more than 40+ cities around the world have adopted Open House, creating the first global architecture festival reaching more than 1 million people. Visit openhouseworldwide.org to learn more. Similar events called Doors Open are held annually in cities including Denver, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Toronto.

Community Partners

The Chicago Architecture Center extends its gratitude to all OHC 2021 community partners:

77 Flavors, Access Contemporary Music, Austin Coming Together, Beverly Area Planning Association, Chicago Cultural Alliance, Chicago Loop Alliance, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, Design Evanston, Downtown Evanston, Evanston Bicycle Club, Evanston History Center , Hyde Park Art Center, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, LISC (Local Initiative Support Coalition), Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology , NON:op Open Opera Works , North Lawndale Historical and Cultural Society, North Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau, Oak Park Art League, Plein Air Painters of Chicago (PAPC), Preservation Chicago, Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Quad Communities Development Corporation (QCDC) , Rogers Park Business Alliance, Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, Six Corners Association, South East Chicago Commission, South Loop Chamber of CommerceVisit Oak Park, West Loop Community Organization