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Structure: The Secret of Skyscrapers


Grades 3-4*

Discover how architects design skyscrapers to stand tall and stay standing!

Structure: The Secret of Skyscrapers is an interactive field trip that will help you unlock the structural ‘secrets’ to Chicago’s spectacular skyscrapers.

Through hands-on activities at the Chicago Architecture Foundation you and your students will learn about seven structural elements, like columns, cantilevers, trusses, arches, and domes. You'll then become structural detectives as you and a CAF docent educator embark on an architectural walking tour to identify structures at work in real buildings in downtown Chicago.

Each group receives a Structure Prep Pack including instructions for pre-and post-visit activities, plus student booklets on the day of the field trip.

– “The docents are extremely knowledgeable, patient, and have a great rapport with my students.  I am always impressed with this trip.” – Teacher, Chicago

– “I really enjoyed learning about cantilevers! I must have walked by thousands of them but I never really appreciated how difficult but beautiful they are! Who invented the cantilevers anyway? I learned so much but still have so much more to learn!” – 3rd grade student, Chicago

*We welcome other grade level participation! Please contact our Coordinator of Youth Engagement, Tocarra Mallard, TMallard(at) to see if this field trip is right for your students!

Field Trip Details

Days and time
Weekdays year-round, from 10:15 to 12:00pm.  
If this time frame does not meet your needs, please contact us about alternate days and times.  

Begin at – Chicago Architecture Foundation, Railway Exchange Building, 224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago
End at – 190 South LaSalle (corner of Adams and LaSalle)

90 minutes

Recommended grade level
Grades 3 - 4. We welcome other grade level participation!

Group size
10 to 60 students
1 chaperone is required for every 5 students

$5.00 per student
No charge for required chaperones; $5.00 charge for each additional adult.

How to schedule a field trip
Reservations are required for all field trips, and reservation requests should be made at least six weeks in advance.

Download a copy of our Field Trip Reservation Form.  Send a completed copy of the reservation form (one copy per field trip) to the Chicago Architecture Foundation:

   Fax: 312.277.1040  

   Email: grouptours(at)

   Mail: Chicago Architecture Foundation, Attention: Group Tours
           224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60604

Reservations will be processed according to the date they are received. A field trip confirmation agreement indicating your tour date and other relevant information will be sent immediately to the contact information you have provided. Please wait to arrange transportation until you have received your confirmation agreement.  

Other important information about your field trip

Please review the following information to help you prepare for your field trip: Preparing for your field trip with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.


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