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Propose an Open House Chicago site

Think your site has the makings of a great Open House Chicago destination?

The Chicago Architecture Center’s Open House Chicago (OHC) gives the public free behind-the-scenes access to great places and spaces throughout the city. In 2018, OHC participants made 366,000 total visits to 279 sites across 31 communities. The 10th annual Open House Chicago will take place on October 17-18, 2020. If you are not already familiar with OHC, you can learn more about the event, review the archive of past sites, or download the OHC 2018 Report.

OHC welcomes proposals for potential new sites. (Past sites that are interested in being featured again should not submit a proposal, but should instead email OHC@architecture.org.) If you are affiliated with a site that might be of interest to OHC visitors, you can propose it for inclusion. Please review the information below before submitting a proposal. There are no fees associated with the proposal or participation of sites in Open House Chicago.

Proposals received after July 1, 2019 will typically be considered for inclusion in OHC 2020, and responses to new proposals may be delayed.

What kinds of sites are included in OHC?

OHC includes a wide variety of sites. Proposed sites should meet at least two of the criteria below:

  • Architectural significance—designed by an important architect or designer, or an example of a significant period or style
  • Historical significance—associated with important past events or people
  • Cultural significance—important to citywide or local community culture
  • Environmental sustainability—foregrounds outstanding "green" features
  • "Wow" factor—dramatic, unexpected, novel, fun or photogenic visitor experience
  • Not routinely open to public
  • Paid admission—fee must be waived for OHC
  • Brand new or newsworthy—site has recently opened or is otherwise timely
  • Milestone anniversary—OHC can be part of celebrating a major anniversary year
  • Located near past OHC sites

In addition, sites must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Must be able to safely accommodate visitor traffic that might range from several hundred to several thousand over the two days of the event. Proof of commercial general liability insurance is generally required.
  • Occupied residences cannot be featured. Common areas and vacant units of multi-unit buildings can be included. Discrete areas of single-family homes that are in use for commercial purposes may be considered as well.
  • OHC visitors must access some interior portion of a site. OHC does not include walking tours, wider geographic districts/areas, or exterior-only site experiences.
  • There is no fee for being an OHC site, but sites must be able to bear any costs they incur as a result of their participation in OHC.
  • Sites must be located in the City of Chicago or adjacent municipalities.

Who can propose a site?

You can propose a site if you are authorized to commit it to participate in OHC (you own or manage the site yourself), or if you can directly connect CAC staff to a person with that authority.

If you submit a proposal for a site with which you are not affiliated, you may not receive a response.

Past sites that are interested in being featured again should not submit a proposal, but should instead email OHC@architecture.org.

What happens after you propose a site?

Every proposal will be carefully evaluated by CAC staff in light of the criteria and requirements above. The decision to include a site is made at the sole discretion of CAC staff, and regrettably, not all qualified sites can be included in the event each year.

If your site is selected, CAC staff will follow up to schedule a site visit and meeting. This is an opportunity to learn more about your site, review the sign-up process, and discuss visitor flow and other operational considerations.

If your site is not selected this year, you will receive an explanation of the decision, and your proposal will be retained for consideration in future years. If you have questions about the site proposal process you can email OHC@architecture.org.

Proposals received after July 1, 2019 will typically be considered for inclusion in OHC 2020, and responses to new proposals may be delayed.