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At the Chicago Architecture Center, our programs and events help you think differently about the places we live, work and play. Get behind-the-scenes access to the city's architectural treasures. Practice your design skills while you play with your family. Participate in expert-led discussions about the latest urban design issues. With these offerings and so many more to choose from, we guarantee there’s something inspiring and fun for you at the CAC. 

Design Dialogues: Chicago's Recession Story

How do we understand the impact of the recession on Chicago’s architecture? Join us as we uncover lesser known unbuilt projects, revisit headline grabbing failures (think: the Spire and the Old Post Office), and celebrate successful preservation and adaptive…

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CAF Family Scavenger Hunt

The CAF Family Scavenger Hunt is a one hour, non-competitive activity for kids under 10 and their families. Arrive at Buckingham Fountain to start your hunt anytime between 1 and 5pm to discover and explore fun architectural details in a walkable area…

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Palladianism, Four Centuries of Style

The year 2015 marks the 300th anniversary of the publication of the first English translations of Andrea Palladio's I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura [The Four Books of Architecture]. Charles Hind, Chief Curator and H.J. Heinz Curator of Drawings at the…

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Read and Build: What Do You Do With an Idea?

This studio is all about thinking and bringing ideas to life! Students will read What Do You Do With an Idea? and use studio materials to design a poster for their best idea. Suitable for ages 3—5; older siblings and friends up to age 7 will also enjoy…

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Drinks + Design: Texture

Drinks + Design in the Studio is a monthly, hands-on program for adults (21+). Participants will meet in the ArcelorMittal Design Studio @ CAF to explore the playful side of architecture and design using LEGO® while enjoying an after-work drink.  

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LEGO® Build Workshop: Texture

We all want to build like the pros and now you can every Sunday in the ArcelorMittal Design Studio @ CAF. Come build with LEGO®, solve a design problem and learn the fundamentals to create your own designs. We’ll spark your imagination with a new theme…

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Saturday Studio: Texture

Work with great architects, designers, engineers, and mentors from the Chicago area! Our hands-on studio-based workshops offer design challenges and real-life problem-solving. Come explore the exciting worlds of architecture, engineering and construction…

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CAF Educator Event: Maker Party

We're inviting K—12 educators in all subject matters to come explore why design matters through hands-on activities in the ArcelorMittal Design Studio @ CAF. We'll enjoy drinks and hors d'oeuvres while we build with LEGO®, tinker with robots, solve…

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CAFamily Studio: Bridge Builders

Chicago has more movable bridges than any other city in the world! In this CAFamily Studio, students will learn why Chicago has so many movable bridges and then use studio objects to create their own! This studio is suitable for students age 7—12 and…

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Design Dialogues: Chicago Playscapes

The lessons of Millennium Park still burn bright, as Chicago continues to invest in the creation of new forms of urban recreation space. What do amenities like the ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park and the conversion of the Bloomingdale line into…

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Behind the Scenes: Motorola Headquarters

Tour the new Motorola Mobility Headquarters at Merchandise Mart. The Gensler-designed Motorola Mobility space incorporates the latest thinking in technology, workplace wellness and sustainable design. Our tour of the 605,000 square-foot space includes…

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High School Competition Workshop

Working on a project for the Newhouse or Discoverdesign.org Competitions? Come join us at CAF for some one-on-one feedback from professional architect, design and engineering mentors from the Chicago area. Bring your projects or saved project files, or…

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Minsuk Cho at the Art Institute of Chicago

Join us for a lecture by Minsuk Cho, founder of MASS Studies in Seoul. As the Commissioner of the Korean Pavilion at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition—la Biennale di Venezia, he was awarded the Golden Lion for the Best National Participation…

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Saturday Studio: Light and Shadow

Work with great architects, designers, engineers, and mentors from the Chicago area! Our hands-on studio-based workshops offer design challenges and real-life program solving. Come explore the exciting worlds of architecture, engineering and construction…

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Behind the Scenes: Jones College Prep

The award winning William Jones College Preparatory High School opened in the fall of 2013, signaling new possibilities and innovation in urban school design. The tour will highlight how creative use of space and light can enrich student learning in an…

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Drinks + Design: Shadow

Drinks + Design in the Studio is a monthly, hands-on program for adults (21+). Participants will meet in the ArcelorMittal Design Studio @ CAF to explore the playful side of architecture and design using LEGO® while enjoying an after-work drink.

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CAFamily Studio: Skyline Stories

Have you ever looked up at a building and thought, "How was that designed?" "What was the architect thinking?" The answer to these questions and many more are revealed in CAF's new online exhibition, Skyline Stories. In this CAFamily Studio, we will use…

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Design Dialogues: Post Industrial Chicago

From Google to Groupon, the booming tech field is breathing new life into our city’s former industrial buildings. Explore the design opportunities and economic factors driving this reshaping of Near West Side, Goose Island and River North, plus take a…

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Institute of Environmental Sustainability - Loyola

The new - Solomon Cordwell Buenz designed - Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola is a beacon of sustainable building in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. CAF's Behind the Scenes tour, led by the project team, includes visits to the Clean…

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Read and Build: W is for Windy City

Celebrate Chicago's nickname, "The Windy City," at our March Read and Build! Students will read W is For Windy City and make mobiles inspired by artist Alexander Calder. Suitable for ages 3-5. 

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The Big Idea: Experience Data

  The Big Idea: Experience Data Download the presentation Access to data is shaping the future of the built environment. Join us for a conversation on how emerging technologies will change what we can see and know, how we elect to design and build…

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LunchTalks@CAF: The Black Skyscraper

  LunchTalks@CAF: The Black Skyscraper Adrienne Brown, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Chicago How did the birth of the skyscraper change the way that race was encountered in city centers? Dr. Brown will present insights…

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Drinks + Design: Urban Data with Lego®

Drinks + Design: Urban Data with LEGO® Drinks + Design in the Studio is a bimonthly, hands-on program for adults. Participants will meet in the ArcelorMittal Design Studio @ CAF to explore the playful side of architecture and engineering during this…

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LunchTalks@CAF: Small Projects, Big Talent

LunchTalks@CAF: Small Projects, Big Talent Kevin Toukoumidis, dSPACE Studio; Paul Preissner, Paul Preissner Architects; Greg Howe, Searl Lamaster, Howe Architects; Chris Lee, Johnson & Lee Architects and Planners Hear from the award winners of AIA Chicago…

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The BIG IDEA: Intersections of Design and Big Data

The BIG IDEA: Intersections of Design and Big Data Join us as we welcome New York-based author, urbanist and national speaker Vishaan Chakrabarti for an evening lecture and dialogue moderated by noted architectural commenter Reed Kroloff. Through his…

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LunchTalks@CAF: The Aural Realm of Architecture

LunchTalks@CAF: The Aural Realm of Architecture Dawn Schuette, FAIA, LEED AP, Threshold Acoustics Light, space and sound are all factors of the built environment that influence people in powerful, as well as subconscious ways. Through our practice of…

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Design Dialogues: Elizabeth Diller with Reed Kroloff

Design Dialogues: Elizabeth Diller with Reed Kroloff Elizabeth Diller is a founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), an interdisciplinary design studio that integrates architecture, the visual arts and the performing arts. DS+R has received…

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Drinks and Design in the Studio: Chicago Model City

Drinks and Design in the Studio: Chicago Model City Catherine Tinker, Founder and Owner of Columbian Model & Exhibit Works Ltd. talks scale! Recreate your favorite Chicago building or design our future city! Drinks + Design in the Studio is a bimonthly…

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Special Lecture: Charles Montgomery’s Happy City

Special Lecture: Charles Montgomery’s Happy CityCharles Montgomery, Author For years, self-help experts have told us that we need to do inner work in order to improve our lives. But what if our cities themselves had the power to make or break our happiness?…

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City of Big Data PechaKucha Night

City of Big Data PechaKucha Night What can you learn about Big Data in 400 seconds? Come to the special, CAF City of Big Data PechaKucha Night and find out! The most engaging thinkers in the city talk about their work in 20 slides up for only 20 seconds…

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Drinks + Design in the Studio: Speed Sketching

Drinks + Design in the Studio: Speed Sketching Can you sketch like an architect? Armed with sharpies, pencils and old-fashioned view finders, you can learn the tricks of the trade. Come in a novice and leave feeling like a pro. Architects from Cannon…

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LunchTalks@CAF: Connection and High Performance

LunchTalks@CAF: Connection and High Performance Luke Leung, PE, LEED-AP, Director of Sustainable Engineering, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP Three different aspects of connection to deliver high performance design will be discussed in this presentation—connecting…

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Instruments for Urban Production

Instruments for Urban Production Over the past 150 years architects have approached the city through the lens of geometry, symbolism,hygiene, collage, contextualism, technology, density and landscape, among others. Recently, a whole host of new forces…

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LunchTalks@CAF: Light in Four Directions

LunchTalks@CAF: Light in Four Directions Robert Benson, Design Director, 4240 Architecture and Allison H. Azevedo, PBS Regional Commissioner, U.S. General Services Administration Great Lakes Region Mies van der Rohe, Morris Lapidus, historic preservation…

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LunchTalks@CAF: New School Work at Perkins+Will

LunchTalks@CAF: New School Work at Perkins+Will Jerry Johnson, AIA, LEED-AP, Design Principal, Perkins+Will Amid a noteworthy history of public school design that began with the firm’s founding, Perkins+Will continues to innovate new design solutions…

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Girls Build: Tiny Homes

Think big and design tiny in this virtual camp for female-identifying campers, ages 11-14. Campers will meet daily August 3-7 to create a sustainable tiny home with a small carbon footprint that could serve a Chicago neighborhood.

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Test More Livable City with Henning Larsen

What can architects do to keep rapidly growing urban areas livable? How can they create more sustainable cities? Danish architecture firm Henning Larsen is among those leading the charge to respond to such challenges. Hear how from one of the partne

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After the City, the City: Water

After the City, the City: Water Part 2: Shared Waters: Chicago, Gary, Milwaukee, and St. Louis While “Chicagoland” is intended to encompass the larger metropolitan area “anchored” by Chicago, water issues increasingly complexify this centralized…

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CAFamily Saturday Studio: Great Lakes, Great You!

CAFamily Saturday Studio: Great Lakes, Great You! Join us in the ArcelorMittal Design Studio at CAF for a day of creative play and learning. Young designers will learn about the exhibit Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin curated in partnership with…

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LunchTalks@CAF: Chicago’s Historic Schools

LunchTalks@CAF: Chicago’s Historic Schools Julia S. Bachrach, Historian and Preservation Professional; Elizabeth A. Patterson, Historian and Preservation Consultant; Frances O’Cherony Archer, Local Historian and Blogger Chicago’s public schools…

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Donors Only: Appetite for Design

Donor-level members are welcome to attend this invitation-only program at The National, the former Chicago Public Schools headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. Blue Star Properties Principal Craig Golden will share details about how the historic renovation…

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Art Nouveau and Chicago Architects

Before Art Deco, another design style was favored by Chicago's great architects as a way to add character to their buildings. Explore the city's connections to Art Nouveau and the architects that designed in the style through various buildings that can…

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River Cruise Deep Dive

Although our docents weave a rich and engaging story about over 50 buildings on the CAC's renowned River Cruise, that ninety-minute tour is still not enough time to share all of the interesting facts about the architecture along the Chicago River. Join…

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Book Talk: Piecing Together America

Author Daniel Seddiqui has learned a lot on his quest to work 50 jobs in 50 states. Join us for a conversation with the man dubbed the "world's most ambitious job seeker" and hear about his time harvesting corn in Nebraska, catching lobster in Maine,…

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Homes Delivered: The Story of Sears Home Kits

Shoppers flocked to mail-order retailers during the 20th century, even going so far as to order their homes through the mail. Between 1908 and 1940, the Chicago-based retailer Sears sold more than 70,000 customizable home kits, making it the largest and…

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Winter Camp: Girls Build! (Affordable) Dream House

Think outside the box and design a dream house! This Girls Build! camp is specially crafted to engage girls ages 11–14 in architecture and design. From 2 to 5pm on select Sundays in January, February and March, girls will work through the design process…

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Chicago's Most Endangered Buildings 2022

What buildings in Chicago are most endangered this year? Find out at the unveiling of the 20th annual “Chicago 7,” a list from Preservation Chicago that identifies significant structures and public spaces preservationists hope to protect from the…

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Blowin’ in the Wind: Reducing Building Sway

In order to withstand the Windy City's namesake weather, some of Chicago’s tallest buildings are designed to sway in the breeze, which can leave residents and workers feeling seasick. Join us for a look at the innovative ways structural engineers minimize…

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Not Set in Stone: Cement and Concrete

Many of today’s commercial buildings are made of concrete. One of concrete’s crucial components is cement, which releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment. Join us as we learn what other alternatives exist to mitigate cement’s…

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