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About Open House Chicago

Every October, the Chicago Architecture Center is proud to host Open House Chicago—a free, two-day public festival that offers behind-the-scenes access to architecturally, historically and culturally significant sites across the city.

Held outdoors and online in support of public health for its 10th anniversary in 2020, Open House Chicago remains one of the largest events of its kind in the world. Beginning October 16, the festival was extended to 17 days, concluding November 1.

OHC 2020 highlighted more than 20 Chicago neighborhoods, North Shore suburbs and Oak Park, with 25 trails for self-guided, outdoor exploration on themes including community engagement, green spaces, historic preservation, residential architecture and more. OHC 2020 also included 16 online programs and virtual tours, with seven more available exclusively to CAC members.

OHC 2021 will take place October 16-17 and feature a new and improved OHC app, the return of in-person site visits, and a series of programs throughout the month of October.

Stay tuned for more updates on format, offerings, and programming as Open House Chicago 2021 draws nearer.

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 such as special members-only tours and OHC public programs. Join today for an enhanced OHC experience and great year-round CAC benefits.


What is Open House Chicago?

Traditionally, OHC is a free annual festival produced by the Chicago Architecture Center that offers indoor access to buildings of architectural, cultural and historical significance. In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, OHC 2020 was reimagined to support public health and safety, with a hybrid model including both online programs and self-guided, themed and outdoor tours available via the OHC 2020 mobile app. Festival attendees were asked to wear face coverings and practice social distancing while exploring the 2020 festival’s featured communities and neighborhoods.

The format of this year's festival is still taking shape. Please stay tuned for more updates.

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 are typically located 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.

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

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 to learn more. Similar events called Doors Open are held annually in cities including Denver, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Toronto. The CAC understands Open House Chicago to be the second largest event of its kind in the world.

Community Partners

The Chicago Architecture Center extends its gratitude to all 37 OHC 2020 community partners:

826CHIAccess Contemporary MusicBeverly Area Planning AssociationBreakthrough FamilyPlex, Bronzeville Historical Society, Chicago Cultural AllianceChicago Loop AllianceChicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitors BureauChicago Public Library, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, Design EvanstonEvanston History Center,  The Forum, Glessner House,  Hyde Park Art Center,  Illinois Holocaust MuseumIntuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Leadership Greater Chicago,  Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce, Logan Square Neighborhood Association , The Magnificent Mile Association,  Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology, NON:op Open Opera WorksNorth Lawndale Community Coordinating Council, North Lawndale Historical and Cultural Society, Oak Park Art League, Oak Park River Forest Museum, Pivot ArtsPlein Air Painters of Chicago, Preservation ChicagoPuerto Rican Arts AllianceRainbow Beach Advisory CouncilRogers Park Business Alliance, Rogers Park / West Ridge Historical SocietyThe Renaissance Collaborative, UChicago Arts and Visit Oak Park. OHC 2021 community partners will be announced at a later date.