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About Open House Chicago

Now in its 10th year, Open House Chicago is one of the largest architecture events of its kind in the world. The free festival typically offers access to hundreds of sites across Chicago, from iconic locations to under-the-radar architectural gems.

This year, the event has been reformatted for outdoor and online participation to accommodate for social distancing and ensure the safety of all participants. The Open House itineraries will focus less of specific sites and more on larger themes—forgotten or under-celebrated architects, how community areas develop specific architecture styles, and important places for understanding the city’s history. This year’s highlighted neighborhoods include an emphasis on the South and West sides.

Although visitors are prohibited from entering participating sites, the new OHC 2020 mobile app will offer location based experiences to enhance any site. Utilizing the Open House Chicago website and the OHC 2020 app, visitors will explore neighborhoods as never before.

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What is Open House Chicago?

Traditionally, OHC is a free annual festival presented by the Chicago Architecture Center that offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 250 buildings across Chicago. In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Chicago Architecture Center have transformed the festival to engage our community in ways that prioritize their safety. Visitors are prohibiting from entering sites and must practice social distancing while exploring the participating neighborhoods. 

When is Open House Chicago?

OHC 2020 is October 16-25.

Who organizes Open House Chicago?

Since 2011, the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) has organized Open House Chicago. The CAC is a non-profit 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 a large number of community partner organizations (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 the support of sponsors, donors and government agencies.

What is different about this year’s festival?

The Chicago Architecture Center has made extensive changes to the event this year that visitors should note:

  • Visitors prohibited from entering sites and should admire exterior details and facades.
  • Visitors are encouraged to wear face coverings at all times.
  • Visitors should maintain six feet of social distance at a minimum while exploring any neighborhoods, except from others with whom they have already isolated.
  • All Open House Chicago tours and experiences will take place outdoors.
  • Open House Chicago takes place over 10 days. The festival kicks off on Friday, October 16, 2020.
  • Priority Access Passes are discontinued.
  • The OHC 2020 mobile app will replace the Chicago Tribune OHC Event Guide.

Should I download the OHC 2020 app?

The Open House Chicago app offers a variety of experiences to enhance your visit to a neighborhood.

Users will be able to explore biking trails and self-guided walking tours, learn more about sites and businesses in each neighborhood and much more. The app is free, GPS-based and compatible with both Android (Google) and iOS (Apple) operating systems. The OHC app will be available for download on October 16th 2020.

The OHC 2020 app is a useful navigation tool to all things OHC!

What should I keep in mind when visiting sites and exploring neighborhoods?

Please do not attempt to enter sites, visitors can admire the exterior and learn about sites from the OHC 2020 app and this website. Additionally, please wear a mask and remain a 6ft distance from others outside of your party.

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

OHC is a citywide event that includes more than 20 neighborhoods. OHC sites and neighborhoods reflect the cultural diversity and history of Chicago, as well as the unique character of each community. Locations include the exteriors of creative spaces, farms, residences, schools and places of worship as well as cultural facilities. This diverse selection of sites allows visitors to plan an itinerary according to their own specific interests.

How are sites selected for inclusion in Open House Chicago?

CAC staff curates sites, taking into account a variety of criteria, such as architectural, historical or cultural significance; wow factor; impressive exterior; within the selected neighborhood and proximity to other participating sites. We are not accepting site proposals at this time.

How do I plan my Open House Chicago weekend experience?

The best way to get up-to-date information about OHC is on this website or the OHC 2020 mobile app. Visitors can download the OHC 2020 app from the Apple or Google Play store on any mobile device for location based tours and experiences.

To stay up to date on the latest OHC developments, sign up for our e-news.

I need a printed guide of locations for Open House Chicago, where can I find one?

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 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. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we advise visitors to exercise caution when traveling on public transportation.

Which OHC benefits do CAC members receive?

CAC members will receive exclusive benefits and discounts throughout OHC 2020. More information about specific discounts and benefits to come.

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 2020?

No, the Chicago Architecture Center is not recruiting volunteers for Open House Chicago 2020.

Are there Open House programs in other cities?

OHC is part of the worldwide family of Open House 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. For a full listing of Open House cities, visit A number of similar events called Doors Open take place in Toronto, Milwaukee, Denver, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and several other cities. We believe Open House Chicago to be the second largest event of its kind in the world.