CHICAGO – With Doors Open Milwaukee 2022 now but a fond memory, toss out your calendar for the weekend and hit the road for the Windy City where the 12th annual Open House Chicago will give you behind the scenes looks at more than 150 sites in one of the undisputed world capitals of architecture, Oct. 15-16.
Among the list of sites are churches, architecture and design studios, landmarks, breweries and more. You can find a complete list here. The event is free and open to the public.
Over the years, Open House Chicago has allowed me to peek inside the Central Standard Building, 231 S. La Salle St, in the Financial District, with its beautiful Wintrust Grand Banking Hall; hit the rooftop of 1 North Dearborn, with its old Boston Store painted sign; check out the neo-gothic Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue; get a tour of City Hall; and check out the Art Deco Chicago Lyric Opera House, among others.
“The Chicago Architecture Center is excited to host the city’s premier exploration experience, Open House Chicago, for the 12th straight year,” says Juanna Blackwell, Chief Operating Officer of the Chicago Architecture Center, which organizes the event.
“We encourage Chicagoans to immerse themselves in our 2022 featured neighborhoods through free in-person events and self-guided tours.”
More than 20 neighborhoods take part, including new participants this year: Chatham and Hermosa.
Some places on my list this year will be the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill offices in the Railway Exchange building at 224 S. Michigan Ave.; and the Herman Miller showroom in a landmarked former meatpacking warehouse in Fulton Market.
I’ll also take the opportunity to get a peek at the top-floor Winter Garden at the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St.
One of my favorite sites has participated for a number of years.
The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, operated by the Friends of the Chicago River since it opened in 2006 in one of the bridgehouses at the DuSable Bridge spanning the Chicago River at Michigan Avenue, is fascinating.
Though it has a small footprint, the five floors of the museum, which is accessed from the Riverwalk, tell the story of Chicago and its river and how that relationship has affected the environment in and around the waterway.
You can also see the surprisingly small 108-horsepower motor that powers the gears that open the giant bascule bridge, aided by a 12,000-ton counterweight that is so finely calibrated that when the bridge is repainted the weight must be re-adjusted.
“Because so many people pay attention to Open House Chicago and the different places that are open, by participating it really gives us that exposure to folks that may not realize we're here,” says Tim Touhy, who is director of public relations for the Friends of Chicago River.
This year, the Friends expect about 3,000 visitors to the museum during the event.
There will be a bridge lift on Saturday, Oct. 15, too, around 9:30 or 9:45, so if you want to see the lifting mechanism at work, get there early as reservations are not being taken during Open House Chicago, so it’s first-come, first-serve.
“It’s a huge weekend for Chicago,” says Touhy. “It’s a chance for Chicagoans to go into places that they've always seen or heard about, but didn't know that they could go in and look. And I think the Bridge House Museum, even though we're open May through October, it just gives people that chance to come in and spend time and see it. And then, they'll come back time and time again.”
Admission will be free during Open House Chicago. Normally, admission to the museum is $6, though Sundays are pay what you want.
While you’re making your way around town, check out architectural landmarks like Adler and Sullivan’s Auditorium Building, the Monadnock and Marquette Buildings and the Rookery, to name but a few. They’re not participating, but you can see them from the street.
And be sure to visit Chicago Architecture Center, too, which is currently hosting “SAY IT LOUD,” which it describes as, “a global traveling activation that elevates the work and identities of local, diverse designers in collaboration with the National Organization of Minority Architects’ (NOMA).”
For more information on Open House Chicago and CAC, visit architecture.org.
While you're there...
Robert's Pizza and Dough Company was a revelation when I recently visited. We had a beautiful autumn day to enjoy not only a great waterside patio on Ogden Slip in Streeterville but some of the best pizza I've had anywhere in the world.
Using a sourdough starter he's kept alive for 25 years, Queens native Robert Garvey – who it turns out traces his roots to the same small Italian town that I do – makes a pizza dough that is crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and with a perfect color.
Garvey also makes apple pie with the same dough and, during Sunday brunch, you can get some of the world's best french toast, again made with that dough, first baked as a French loaf, then sliced.
The patio is open all year long, thanks to heaters, firepits and the fact that its slip-side location is always a tad warmer than the rest of the neighborhood. Don't miss out on this gem.
Even if you've already been to Chicago 360 observation deck to tilt and face the sidewalk 94 stories (1,000 feet!) below, it's worth a return visit since the recent opening of the CloudBar.
The bar with the best view in town is open from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. with a general admission ticket, and you can enjoy a (literally) elevated cocktail, as well as snacks.
There's also a Sip, Tilt & View ticket that gets you the full view from the 94th floor of the former John Hancock Center, plus the Tilt experience and a beer, wine or cocktail from a curated selection at CloudBar.
If you're looking for a lively big city atmosphere for lunch or dinner, check out Quartino, just a few blocks off the Magnificent Mile shopping district.
This Italian restaurant – run by the Gibsons folks – is hopping all the time and its range of small plates is perfect for sharing.
If you're lucky, you'll get a table in narrow dining room that runs along State Street. There, with a glass of barbera and a tiny cast iron pan full of olives, you'll find it easy to sit back and enjoy the vibe.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.