CHICAGO (CBS) — Ever wondered about that old but curiously opulent building in Old Town?
How about that beautiful glass-block church in Bronzeville?
Or that Jefferson Park building that resembles a gilded jewel box on the inside?
Whether you’re an architecture expert or just want to see something new, Open House Chicago has something for everyone.
More than 350 sites will be open throughout the city the weekend of October 19-20. Eric Rogers is the manager of OHC. The event is organized by the Chicago Architecture Center.
“Whatever your niche is you can find it. You can find the residential architecture, you can find sacred spaces, you can find industrial facilities, you can turn it into a bar crawl and go to places that make beer or liquor,” Rogers said.
It’s hard for Rogers to single out favorite buildings or site to seek out, but he said St. Ignatius Prep, located on the city’s West Side, is celebrating its 150th anniversary and is normally closed during the week (except for students who go there.)
“They have this stunning pre-fire building on Roosevelt with these gorgeous historic spaces, in particular inside, there’s this room called the Brunswick Room that has this amazing carved woodwork that was all installed by the Brunswick Company,” Rogers said.
Last year, more than 266,000 people walked through neighborhoods throughout Chicago. At least 100 new sites have been added to this year’s event, including the Carl Street Studios that were setup by renowned Chicago artist Edgar Miller. (It’s a members only event. Click here for more information.)
Communities also benefit with the prospect of lots of visitors coming through a new area.
“It’s also a wonderful opportunity for neighborhoods and sites to get exposure and meet new people and cultivate new audiences,” Rogers said. “That is what has really driven the growth in the number of communities we showcase and the number of site that we feature.”
With so many sites and so little time, how does one approach seeing lots of places and spaces? Rogers said there’s a system he uses to navigate through neighborhoods.
“What I do is give the entire list a scan and I identify the things I really strongly want to see and then I start to look at how they fit geographically,” Rogers said. “And what else is near some of them and that’s how I pick out a neighborhood or a general area.”
People can also divide and conquer by communities.
“Pick an area that you’re curious about, where you know there are one or two sites that you absolutely need to see,” Rogers noted. “And just go see everything there. And kind of make a day or afternoon of it.”
While the mention of architecture tours usually brings up images of skyscrapers, Rogers said it’s a chance to see a place you may not live near, but it’s known for a notable building or two, or three.
“Going out to the neighborhoods is a great idea. What our visitors find is that you can probably see more sites in a period of time if you go outside of downtown where it tends to be not as large crowds,” Rogers said.
Visitors can make their own itinerary using the OHC site to organize how to best get to the places they want to see. He said around 90% of the people who go to OHC are from the Chicago area and it’s turned into an interactive event, where visitors are encouraged to use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to document where they’ve gone using hashtags like #OHC2019.
“It’s our gift to the city of Chicago.”