Beyond the Dazzle: Inspiration, Admiration and Lessons in Chicago’s Architecture This Fall


Chicago’s architectural influence and legacy is known around the world, its lakeside site and modern skyline fascinating admirers of architecture and design throughout the decades and dazzling tourists every day. The city’s skyscrapers are progressive ideas and daring made real, defining the modern city and climbing to heights that continuously defy what we think could be the limits of engineering, design and physics.


The CAB5 curatorial team


This fall the city will be the nexus of ideas about how architecture can do far more than skim the atmosphere and sell boat tour tickets when the fifth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial opens September 21. Co-led by Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, Faheem Majeed, Andrew Schachman and avery r. young–the team behind the art collective Floating Museum–CAB5: This is a Rehearsal takes an expansive view of design as an iterative rehearsal process to explore architecture, cities, and the different social, ecological, economic and political forces that shape them. 

The Biennial has examined the roles of architecture and public space since its founding, and this edition will be no different, except that the global city of 2023 is quite altered from the city of 2021, and certainly 2019. This year CAB5 is a large-scale, multilayered art exhibition that invites the public to participate in a meeting of the minds in order to consider just what is possible today that builds upon what was created in the past. 

The Chicago Architecture Biennial runs Sept 21–Jan 2, 2024



2023 site Pilgrim Congregational Church in Oak Park. Photos by Eric Allix Rogers.


2022 site Avondale Bowl


Overlapping with CAB5 is the annual public celebration of the rich range of Chicago’s architectural treasures, Open House Chicago, the Chicago Architecture Center’s free festival of self-guided behind-the scenes history and architecture trails throughout the city. 

One of the largest events of its kind, 2023’s OHC in-person visits occur October 13–15 and highlight more than 20 neighborhoods. Visitors will encounter themes of neighborhood investment, community engagement, historic preservation and more. talks and programs, and behind-the-scenes access to 150 architecturally, historically and culturally significant sites. For free visitors gain access to some of the city’s most historically, culturally and architecturally important sites in 170+  locations across 20+ Chicago neighborhoods. Normally many of these sites are closed to the public during the year. 

Additionally, for the first time, the CAC will host two Friday events, including one exclusively for CAC members. On Friday, October 13, a kickoff party takes place at the CAC, where visitors can experience the Center’s exhibits for free and purchase official OHC merchandise. CAC members will also be invited to an opening night party on the 33rd floor of the Willis Tower. The event will feature light bites and a performance of an original piece of music inspired by the Willis Tower and commissioned by CAC (so become a member now!)

The rest of the weekend will feature self-guided tours across the city’s diverse neighborhoods, allowing OHC participants to experience Chicago’s deep architectural history firsthand. This year’s program will enable visitors to tour the childhood home of Walt Disney in Hermosa and the National Cambodian Heritage Museum in Ravenswood. Also new to OHC this year is Uptown’s historic Riviera Theater, an ornate concert venue originally built in 1917 as a movie theater. 

“Open House Chicago makes architecture and design accessible and is a free program for all,” said Eleanor Gorski, CEO & President, Chicago Architecture Center. “The event is a true community venture, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with chambers of commerce, neighborhood organizations, arts and culture organizations and historical societies across the city to bring the festival to life.” 

In addition to the tours, Open House Chicago sites will also host programming and activations during the weekend. This year, CAC has enhanced the festival experience by launching a new app that provides information on programming and allows attendees to create their own itineraries of OHC sites.  

Open House Chicago runs Oct 13–15, 2023

Details at