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The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) reveals the stories behind the buildings — and the people behind the stories. Here's a look at what makes the CAC one-of-a-kind.

Nearly 380,000 annual visitors engage with us through: 

  • 87 different tours offered nearly 6,300 times per year: boat, walking, bus and “L” train.
  • More than 8,000 square feet of vibrant exhibitions at the CAC
  • Programs and events ranging from behind-the-scenes access to architectural treasures across the city to hands-on workshops for the entire family

We Inspire the Next Generation

A girl working on a ferris wheel build during Engineering Fest 2019. Photo by Michael Courier.As a thought leader in architecture education, the CAC Learning Team explores the fundamentals of architecture and design through engaging programs. Our learning opportunities inspire families, students, teachers, adult learners, and cultural consumers alike, as we emphasize problem-solving and critical thinking through real-world design topics in the places where we live and learn. We do this through thoughtful education, experiential and engagement opportunities. 

How? By keeping our Learning Principles at the center of every program we offer and asking ourselves, ‘What’s worth knowing and what’s worth experiencing?’ 

Signature Program Offerings: 

  • Teen Fellows Program 
  • Girls Build! 
  • Engineering Fest 
  • No Small Plans 
  • Newhouse Competition 
  • Teacher Institute 
  • Adult Lecture Series 
  • Adult Workshops and Community Learning

We Engage Communities

Two women looking through the 2018 OHC Guide. Photo by Michael Courier.Open House Chicago is a free, two-day architecture festival that offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 175 sites in more than 20 neighborhoods across Chicago. The annual festival provides public access to places of architectural, historical, and cultural significance throughout the city while focusing on Chicago's diverse neighborhoods. 

  • 178,000 site visits by 26,000 attendees across two days 
  • 56% of attendees visited a new neighborhood 
  • 92% of locals said OHC made them feel proud to be a Chicagoan 
  • 30 community partners actively participated in showcasing their neighborhoods 
  • Nearly 2,000 volunteers “staffed” the weekend, contributing 9,000 hours 

We are Docent-Powered

We make learning exciting. Our 480 volunteer docents undergo a rigorous training program before they can lead tours, host exhibitions, act as education guides, and provide guest services. Equal parts storyteller and educator, our docents are renowned for taking complex subjects and engaging audiences from around the world. Last year, CAC docents donated more than 15,800 hours in service of CAC’s mission. 

We Guide Professionals Worldwide

In order to assist architecture organizations and urban centers across the United States and around the world, the CAC established the Association of Architecture Organizations and the Architecture + Design Education Network, international groups that interpret built environments.

Recent Awards / Recognition

  • 2023 Best Tour by Chicago Reader
  • 2022 Best Boat Tour in North America by USAToday
  • 2021 Top Honor for Local Design Exhibitions by NewCity
  • 2020 Citation of Merit, Interior Architecture Award from AIA Chicago
  • 2019 CAC "Business Impact of the Year" from The Magnificent Mile Association
  • 2018 CAC "Best New Attraction" from Friends of Downtown
  • 2018 AIA Illinois Richard Nickel Award
  • 2017 John Baird Award for Stewardship, City of Chicago Landmark Commission


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