Classic downtown, neighborhood, limited-run CAC Walking Tours,
CAFC River Cruise are popular, safe, open-air activities
CHICAGO – The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) rolls out its downtown and neighborhood CAC Walking Tours on April 17 for Chicagoans eager to rediscover their city’s classic architecture and diverse neighborhoods in a safe, open-air activity. The popular, always changing walking tours and CAFC River Cruise are led by a corps of 400 expert CAC docents, who in June 2021 celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1971 first CAC docent class.
“As we have since our founding 55 years ago, the CAC will be an eager partner in Chicago’s comeback as we rebuild an equitable Chicago and renew a robust civic commitment,” said Lynn Osmond, President and CEO of the CAC. “CAC invites Chicagoans to begin that journey by joining a CAC docent on a CAC neighborhood walking tour or the CAFC River Cruise and rediscover Chicago’s architectural and civic legacy.”
Favorite Downtown CAC Walking Tours returning April 17 and bookable now include:
Art Deco Skyscrapers: The Loop Art Deco masterpieces built in Chicago’s financial district during the Roaring ’20s
Chicago Architecture: A Walk Through Time Chicago’s early skyscrapers to supertall high rises
Must See Chicago Chicago’s most famous buildings and more: Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, Art Institute, Willis Tower
Historic Treasures of Chicago’s Golden Age architectural landmarks of Michigan Avenue and State Street 1890 to 1930
Chicago Icons: Connecting Past and Present see how architectural styes from the 1890s connect to today’s skyline
Mid-Century Modern Skyscrapers Chicago’s modernist masters, Mies, Goldberg and Graham, set the stage for the modern city center
Lights, Camera, Architecture! see architecture that starred in Ferris Bueller, Batman, the Blues Brothers and other films
Neighborhood CAC Walking Tours returning April 17 include:
Fulton-Randolph Market 150-year evolution from food wholesaling and meatpacking to gourmet restaurants, technology hubs and boutique hotels
Northwestern University Campus a stunning, wooded campus on Lake Michigan with 19th Century Collegiate Gothic to cutting-edge designs
Kenwood the stately neighborhood, home to early industrialists, modern-day innovators and President Barack Obama
Hyde Park home to the 1893 World’s Fair, the University of Chicago and Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Robie House, pre-Chicago Fire houses and the famous Midway.
Evanston Along the Lake one of Chicago’s most desirable suburbs, with many homes and churches with notable designs, where Daniel Burnham established his “country retreat”
Summer Celebrations Walking Tours bookable in late spring/early summer
A Juneteenth Celebration walking tour, Civil War to Civil Rights at Oak Woods Cemetery, marks the celebration of the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas on June 19, 1865. The Oak Woods Cemetery walking tour commemorates Chicago’s role in the Civil War and honors Civil Rights leaders laid to rest at Oak Woods including Ida B. Wells and Mayor Harold Washington among other African American legends like Olympian Jesse Owens.
CAC Docent 50th Anniversary Summer Celebration Tours, limited run tours initially available to members only, mark the June 2021 50th Anniversary of the first graduating docent class of 1971. CAC docents have created new and revived favorite walking tours from the past five decades to celebrate the city they love. New walking tours include Historic Austin that begins with historic homes around West Midway Park from its early days as an upper middle class suburban community, its annexation by Chicago and then first home for newly arriving American immigrants and African Americans moving north as part of The Great Migration. Chicago Gothic is another new walking tour focusing on neo-gothic inspired buildings near North Michigan Avenue. Favorite tours from the past being offered this summer include Kenilworth, Millennium Park: Beyond the Bean; Humboldt Park, and Churches of Evanston.
All walking tours—including custom and private bookings—are limited to small groups only, with face coverings and advance reservations required.
CAFC RIVER CRUISES
On April 17, the #1 boat tour in Chicago based on TripAdvisor user reviews, CAFC River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady (CFL) launches its 2021 cruise season along Chicago River’s canyon of architecture. Led by CAC docents, guests will hear stories of the men and women who have designed more than 50 architecturally significant buildings along the Chicago River as well as the Chicago Riverwalk and the 13 bascule bridges on the cruise route.
The 90-minute CAFC River Cruise is the most in-depth, authentic architecture river cruise available and is lauded as a “must-do” activity when visiting Chicago. Exciting new buildings with cutting edge design elements continue to rise along the river including the recently completed St. Regis (Vista) Tower, the city’s third tallest structure, and the refurbished riverfront Old Post Office. Tour guests will leave the cruise inspired by the city’s wide variety of architectural styles—– which glide by as you travel up and down all three branches of the Chicago River—including art deco, neoclassicism, mid-century modernism, and postmodernism.
Chicago’s First Lady’s luxury fleet is the finest on the Chicago River and now includes the new, brass and mahogany trimmed Chicago’s Emerald Lady. Full-service bars on board each vessel. Cruises will initially limit capacities following the guidelines from public health officials. Cruises will require face coverings. Advance reservations are NOT required.
NEW CAC EXHIBITS IN MAY
On May 22, the CAC will reopen its galleries with new and fully refreshed exhibits:
THE CHICAGO GALLERY returns with new exhibits throughout.
- Chicago City Model Experience, featuring more than 4,250 buildings, returns with thirty new models of buildings under construction in 2020 and 2021—including Ace Hotel in the West Loop’s Fulton Market and Catalog, in the new podium at Willis (Sears) Tower. Features a seven-minute video summarizing the city’s dynamic history, fascinating present and promising future.
- Current Chicago Projects Exhibit opens with new, cutting-edge Chicago projects and all new scale models.
- BRAND NEW FOR MAY 2021: The City in Change: Chicago Neighborhoods Exhibit introduces visitors to Chicagoans from some of the city’s 77 diverse, architecturally distinct and constantly changing communities.
- BRAND NEW FOR MAY 2021: Housing for a Changing Nation Exhibit is an entirely new installation, sponsored by AARP Illinois and the AARP Foundation, that explores how local architects are replacing outdated 19th and 20th century housing with homes designed for fast-changing, diverse, multi-generational communities that need flexible, accessible and affordable housing:
- a multi-generational home in Mexican and European influenced Pilsen neighborhood splicing together a Chicago two-flat with a new two-story structure;
- a five-lot, live/work, micro-housing complex with shared community kitchen and retail marketplace and cottage-industry scaled workspace for South Chicago’s “maker” community;
- strip malls and vacant storefronts transformed into flexible live/workspaces—a contemporary update on the old concept of “living above the store”—for a new generation of small business entrepreneurs.
THE DRAKE FAMILY SKYSCRAPER GALLERY featuring “Building Tall” reopens with seven new scale models of towers from Bangkok, Chicago, New York, Taipei and Tianjin and other skyscrapers from around the world and “Race to the Top” featuring oversized scale models of skyscrapers that were each tallest in the world when built.
CAC BOX OFFICE & CAC DESIGN STORE
On April 17, the CAC Box Office and CAC Design Store reopen for guests wishing to book in-person walking tours and the CAFC River Cruise and shop one of Chicago’s favorite design venues. Both spaces will limit capacities and require face coverings.
CAC COVID-19 MITIGATION POLICIES
The CAC is committed to supporting a safe experience for its visitors and guests, members, staff and volunteers. Below is a summary of what the CAC and guests are doing to keep us all safe.
As we reopen our in-person tours, architecture cruise and exhibits, the CAC will continue to follow recommendations by the State of Illinois’ and the City of Chicago’s efforts to limit the transmission of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
We encourage the public to subscribe to our free biweekly mini magazine, CAC@Home. Archived at architecture.org/athome, CAC@Home issues feature upcoming events and reading material, neighborhood activities, fun for the family and more. CAC members enjoy additional benefits and exclusive offerings in addition to CAC@Home: Members’ Edition.
By visiting the Chicago Architecture Center or participating in any CAC activities or programs in person, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. All guests over the age of two attending any tours are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth for the duration of those tours. Bring and wear your own face coverings to limit exposure to and spreading of infection. Please follow protection measures as outlined by public health ofﬁcials for the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago.
Accommodations may be made on a case-by-case basis for persons with disabilities, health concerns, religious restrictions or other circumstances that, at the CAC’s discretion, warrant variance from face covering requirements. Visitors and tour attendees arriving without face coverings will be able to purchase them from the CAC. Safety policies will continue to be modified as necessary.
If you feel ill or suspect you may be experiencing symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, please do not enter the Center or attend any CAC tours. We will be happy to refund your reservation or welcome you to join us again at a later date.
For updates on offerings visit architecture.org or call 312-922-8687.
About the Chicago Architecture Center
The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1966, dedicated to inspiring people to discover why design matters. A national leader in architecture and design education, the CAC offers tours, programs, exhibitions and more that are part of a dynamic journey of lifelong learning.
Opened to the public in 2018, its riverfront location is in the heart of the city, where Michigan Avenue meets the Chicago River, featuring nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibition space with views of a century of iconic skyscrapers.
Through partnerships with schools and youth-serving organizations, the CAC reaches approximately 30,000 K–12 students annually, while teacher workshops provide educators with tools and resources they need to advance STEM curricula in their classrooms. Committed to serving under-represented communities in construction, engineering and design professions, the CAC offers many of its education programs—and all of its programs for teens—at no cost to participants. CAC programs for adults and members include talks with acclaimed authors and practicing architects, in-depth presentations on issues and trends in urbanism, and classes unlocking subjects related to the built environment
Proceeds from programs, tours and the CAC Design Store, as well as from grants, sponsorships and donations, support its educational mission. Visit architecture.org to learn more and follow @chiarchitecture and #chiarchitecture on social media.