The doors to Chicago’s finest places and spaces don’t unlock themselves. We’d like you to meet the passionate, enthusiastic people who help us host the city’s biggest annual architectural festival: Open House Chicago.
Bernard Loyd is the steward of The Forum and Founder and President of Urban Juncture, Inc., a Bronzeville-based community development firm. Bernard lives a block away and purchased the building in 2011 to save it from emergency demolition. He's now leading the effort to “Bring Back the Forum” and revitalize 43rd Street.
What is your favorite part about this site? Why should people see it?
Forum Hall, the assembly hall located on the second floor of the building, is an iconic space that is largely intact, despite having been shuttered for more than 40 years. It carries layer upon layer of the history of the Bronzeville community, from the craftsmanship of ethnic Europeans that built it 120 years ago, to labor and civil rights meetings, to the musical performances of Nat King Cole, Captain Walter Dyett, Muddy Waters and so many other great Americans.
What do you love about Open House Chicago? What was your favorite OHC experience?
I love the fact that OHC brings a uniquely diverse mix of visitors to our community, all united in an appreciation for the heritage embodied in our built structures and open to experiencing the neighborhoods that birthed them. My favorite experience was seeing the look on my colleague’s face when she found out that over 1,100 visitors saw The Forum during OHC 2014.
What is the most memorable question you got asked by an OHC visitor?
One gentleman asked whether a $10 million investment might be helpful in bringing the building back. Dear Sir, if you’re reading this: Yes, $10 million would be very helpful, but even a fraction of that could make a big difference!