CAF Open House Chicago 2013

It’s been a little over a week since attending the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s (CAF) Annual Open House Chicago (OHC), and I’m finally getting around to sharing my photos (as well as the photos of the other 5 photographers I was out with). If you’re not familiar with this event, CAF organizes a weekend full of access to some of Chicago’s most iconic buildings (most of which are never open to the public) from the Loop to Uptown to the University of Chicago Campus and much more. There were 150 buildings the general public could explore, which is next to impossible to do in one weekend. We only managed to make it to eight in the one day we were out…hopefully I can get to more next year.
The images I made from each of these buildings, some I didn’t really get anything I liked from, vary greatly. Initially I was going to breakdown the images into individual posts so they flowed more fluidly but ultimately I’ve decided to include them all here. I’ll go through each site I visited with a little description of the building and the images made.
If you also made it out to the OHC I’d love to see the shots you got, so please link your album or your favorite shot in the comments section below! And I’d love to hear what is a must see for next year!
Here we go…I was a little early to meeting up with the other photographers I was going to spend the day with and as I walked by the Wrigley Building and Trump Tower I couldn’t resist making a few images.
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Our first official stop was the architectural firm Perkins + Will (330 N. Wabash), which occupies the 35th and 36th floors of one of Chicago’s iconic Mies van der Rohe designs. This is the second tallest building designed by Mies and is most often referred to as the IBM Building, though they no longer have any offices here. It’s currently the home of a number of businesses, condos and new hotel, The Langham. As you can see below the views from Perkins + Will are spectacular!
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And it’s always fun to get a different perspective of Marina City, also shot from Perkins + Will.
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Next up…Aqua (221 N. Columbus Dr.)! The main reason for visiting here (since most of us already have many images of Aqua’s exterior) was to check out the views from one of its curvaceous balconies. I can’t say I got anything I’m in love with from here but the hotel lobby is beautiful and the suite we toured was amazing! Some of the photographers I was out with got some interesting images, checkout these by Ara and Cynthia!
Aqua is currently the world’s tallest building designed by a woman as the lead architect, Jeanne Gang, she’s also the founder of Studio Gang Architects. They’ve created some of my favorite designs in all of Chicago!
This image of mine is an abstract take on the neighboring Aon building (on the left) and the Fairmont Hotel (on the right).
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Onto the behind the scenes tour of the Pritzker Pavilion (201 E. Randolph St.)! This sculpture, yes, I consider this and all of Frank Gehry’s masterpieces sculptures, is home to the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Grant Park Music Festival, which is the country’s only remaining free outdoor classical music series.
My inclination to consider this a piece of art is not off base, Grant Park and therefore Millennium Park  (since MP is part of the larger Grant Park) has height restrictions. To get around the height of Gehry’s design the city classifies the pavilion a piece of art as opposed to a building. Gotta love Chicago politics!
I wasn’t able to get the images I had envisioned from the behind the scenes tour of the stage but here’s one of Gehry’s design.
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Next we stopped by the Monroe Building (104 S. Michigan Ave.) designed by Holabird & Roche and headed up to the 12th floor which is home to IA Interior Architects. This space was so fun! Not only do they have amazing views of Millennium Park but, as you would expect, the interior was amazing! I particularly had a great time photographing the curvy design on the ceiling…you know I love my abstracts!
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To take in more spectacular views of Millennium Park we headed to The Cliff Dwellers (220 S. Michigan Ave.) which is a private club on the 22nd floor that supports the fine and performing arts. This club has had some pretty prestigious members…Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and Lorado Taft to name a few.
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Next up, the Chicago Board of Trade! This is art deco design at it’s best! Built by Holabird and Root in 1930 this imposing building sits at the end of La Salle Street. One of the big draws this year was the vault in the basement which, oddly enough, has never been used as a bank. I didn’t get any good images of this, but checkout James Howe’s photo.
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At this point we were all pretty tired out…only two of us continued onto the last two buildings. We briefly stopped by The School of the Art Institute Chicago, Sullivan Center, but I didn’t even take one photo from inside.
The last stop, which originally wasn’t on our list, was a tip from a couple other photographer friends letting us know it was a must see…MDA Chicago City Apartments designed by Daniel Burnham Jr. This building has been renovated into some very cool apartments, if I were in my 20’s I’d love to live here! It has pretty awesome views and the rooftop space is unbelievable! An outdoor movie theater area, hot tub and lots of interesting areas to sit and enjoy the spectacular views from inside and out.
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Next year I just might have to get a membership to the Chicago Architecture Foundation because there are a few buildings that are only accessible to members that I think would be spectacular! As you can see, we only managed a very, very small portion of the buildings available for touring, at this rate it’s going to take me a lifetime to get inside all of them, but it’s a fun weekend if you have a love for architecture or even just a love for some pretty amazing city views!
As promised, here are the links to the albums by the other 5 photographers that I spent the day wandering around with. Be sure to check them out!
Seth…more coming soon but here are the first few he’s edited, here, love this one and an album here
And the rest of mine...



0 Responses

  1. Great set of images. You hit most of the places I did plus a couple that I didn't. Thanks for the link to my vault door shot! I definitely recommend the CAF membership. It's pretty cheap and it was nice to get into some of the 'members only' locations.

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