20,000-Square-Foot Chicago Architecture Center Opens Its Doors to the Public

Chicago Architecture Center

Photo: Angie McMonigal

The day has finally arrived. On August 31, 2018, the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) opens to the public as the new gateway for docent-led tours, educational activities, and interactive exhibits. Demonstrating just why Chicago is an architecture hub, the 20,000-square-foot center has views of city gems like the Tribune Tower and the Wrigley Building.

CAC is located at 111 East Wacker in a building designed by Mid-Century Modern pioneer Mies van der Rohe. Architectural firm AS + GG are responsible for CAC's design, including the gallery spaces that take up half the square footage of the center. Highlights include the Drake Family Skyscraper Gallery, which features an inaugural exhibition about how architects continue to break barriers in an effort to create taller buildings. Enormous scale models of skyscrapers from Chicago and around the world show the competitive nature of this “race to the top.”

Another area worth mentioning is the Chicago Model Experience. Expanded from 1,300 to over 4,000 buildings, the beloved 3D model of Chicago explores the growth of the city through a film and light show. Taking visitors from the Great Chicago Fire to its first skyscrapers to the current day, the model is an incredible look at urban development and city planning.

Adults and children will also have a chance to get their hands dirty in the ArcelorMittal Design Studio. Through hands-on activities, visitors have the opportunity to see what it's like to be an engineer, designer, or architect.

“We want to be the first stop for visitors to Chicago and a return destination for locals looking to better understand and appreciate their city, through our programs and exhibitions,” shares Lynn Osmond, the President and CEO of CAC.

To celebrate the grand opening, visitors are invited to post photos to social media using the hashtag #GetToTheCenter. Prizes, including a 2-night stay at LondonHouse Chicago, Friends & Family memberships, and gift certificates, will be given out from August 31 to September 31.

The new Chicago Architecture Center is located along the Chicago River, allowing easy access to their famous architectural cruises.

Chicago Architecture Center

The 20,000-square-foot center includes exhibition spaces, a lecture hall, and shop.

The Box Office at the Chicago Architecture Center; Photo credit: Courtesy Chicago Architecture Center

Box Office.

The Chicago Architecture Center Store

The Chicago Architecture Center Store.

The Chicago Model Experience uses a 3D model, film, and light show to explore the urban development of Chicago.

The Chicago Model in The Chicago Gallery at The Chicago Architecture Center. Photo Credit: Courtesy Chicago Architecture Center

The Chicago Model in The Chicago Gallery.

The Great Chicago Fire on The Chicago Model at The Chicago Architecture Center; Photo Credit: Courtesy Chicago Architecture Center

The Great Chicago Fire on The Chicago Model.

Visitors can learn about the “race to the top” in the Building Tall exhibition located in the Skyscraper Gallery.

Building Tall at the Chicago Architecture Center

“Building Tall” exhibition in the Skyscraper Gallery.

Building Tall at the Chicago Architecture Center

“Building Tall” exhibition in the Skyscraper Gallery.

Chicago Architecture Center: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use images by CAC.

Related Articles:

Chicago Architecture Center Will Open to the Public

My Modern Met’s Art + Culture Guide to Chicago

Designers Use Aerial Scans to Turn Any Street in Chicago into Detailed 3D Models

Spectacular Photos of Chicago’s Skyscrapers Piercing Layers of Fog and Clouds

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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