Open House Chicago...Day I

Have you ever walked by a building and wondered if you could see what's inside? The Chicago Architectural Center's 9th Annual Open House Chicago is the city’s annual architecture festival. For one weekend in October you can explore Chicago’s most iconic and unique architectural treasures. From mansions to sacred spaces, theaters to private clubs, hotels to secret rooms—Open House Chicago gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at many of the city’s great spaces that are rarely, if ever, open to the public. This is indeed a special event for architecture lovers!

When I choose my locations to visit, I make sure to select the ones that will give me great downtown views and special looks that you wouldn’t get if you weren’t participating in Open House Chicago. On day one, I started out visiting the McCormick Place Rooftop Garden atop the McCormick Place West building. From there, I was able to photograph the garden, as well as overhead photos of the new venue, Wintrust Arena. I also captured great photos of the skyline looking North towards one of the newest residential skyscrapers, NEMA Chicago. My next stop was over to the Old Post Office, which has undergone a $60 million dollar renovation from top to bottom as new office spaces and residences. Uber and Walgreens are just two of the companies moving into the building. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Money Museum was my next stop. Once there, I was looking forward to photographing the massive, old columns inside. But to my great surprise, in the next room was a display of one million dollars encased in glass. And in the room next to it, was a rotating ‘cube of cash, which was one million dollars in $1 bills. Upon leaving, everyone was given a bag of shredded money, which was valued at $364. And to think I almost didn’t go to this location…

Next up was the Gentleman’s Cooperative Penthouse 111, which is a Chicago custom suit designer, clothier, barber and stylist that operates as a membership club and corporate event space. I also had access to the rooftop space where I was able to photograph lots of downtown buildings such as Chase Tower, The Chicago Board of Trade Building, Metropolitan Correctional Center, Willis Tower, Millennium Park, The Legacy at Millennium Park residential tower and the ‘Boston Store’ mural, which pays tribute to the building’s original owner from 1917. One Prudential Plaza, one of the first skyscrapers built in Chicago after World War II, was up next. It had the highest roof in the city at the time, slightly taller than the Chicago Board of Trade Building. From the 11th floor roof space, I captured high views of the Chicago Cultural Center, Wrigley Square, Millennium Park, Blue Cross Blue Shield Building, Two Prudential Plaza, Harris Theater For Music and Dance and Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. I hesitated on my next stop, which was Vista Tower. I knew the building wasn’t finished, so what could you possibly see there? Well, upon entering the lobby, there was a huge-scale model of Vista Tower and other buildings that would be built as part of the new Lakeshore East development. And I got to see ‘projected images’ of what the views would look like from the 90th floor, which costs $10 million dollars. My last stop was Essex On The Park, a new residential addition to Chicago’s skyline overlooking Grant Park. From the 7th floor Winter Garden, I was able to photograph the view overlooking the park towards One Museum Park residential tower, a west view looking towards Willis Tower and a view looking towards Millennium Park and the Randolph Street skyline.