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For most Americans, architecture, engineering, and design remain obscure and distant languages. As an interpreter of the cities around us, the Chicago Architecture Foundation reveals the stories behind the buildings — and the people behind the stories. Here's a look at what makes CAF one-of-a-kind.

We Celebrate Chicago and Its Heritage of Architecture and Design

More than 670,000 annual visitors engage with us through:

  • 85 different tours offered more than 6,000 times per year: boat, walking, bus, trolley, L train, Segway and bike
  • A visit to the Chicago Model: the world’s largest scale model of Chicago
  • Programs and events ranging from behind-the-scenes access to architectural treasures around the city to hands-on workshops for the entire family

We Inspire the Next Generation

kids enjoying the chicago modelThrough workshops, programs, competitions and mentoring, we work with thousands of students and families. Each year:

We Engage Communities

Open House Chicago is an annual free weekend festival that offers behind-the-scenes access to more than 150 buildings in neighborhoods across Chicago. The festival instills pride in community and place.

  • 75,000 attendees in two days
  • 44,000 people visited a new neighborhood
  • 92% of locals said OHC made them feel proud to be a Chicagoan
  • More than 30 community partners actively participated in showcasing their neighborhoods

We are Docent-Powered

We make learning exciting. Our 450 volunteer docents undergo a rigorous training program before they can lead tours. Equal parts storyteller and educator, our docents are renowned for taking a complex subject and engaging audiences from around the world. Last year, CAF docents donated more than 25,000 hours in service of CAF’s mission.

We Guide Professionals Worldwide

In order to assist architecture organizations and urban centers across the United States and around the world, CAF established the Association of Architecture Organizations and the Architecture + Design Education Network, international groups that interpret built environments.

Recent Awards / Recognition

  • 2014 Keystone Award, American Architectural Foundation
  • 2013 American Institute of Architects National Honor Award for Collaborative Achievement
  • 2013 Congress for the New Urbanism
  • 2013 American Society of Landscape Architects
  • 2012 “#1 Best Thing To Do in Chicago” – U.S. News and World Report