During the first week in August, select walking and bus tours will begin departing from the CAC. The CAC Store will also open at that time. When the CAC opens to the public on Aug. 31, CAF will officially adopt the name Chicago Architecture Center for all its offerings and activities.
The CAC is opening in a building with architectural significance. The Office of Mies van der Rohe, a pioneer of Modernist architecture, designed 111 East Wacker, which opened in 1970. World-renowned Chicago-based architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) designed the CAC interior. It features custom-designed spaces for tour orientation, design education, public programs and nearly 10,000 square feet of innovative exhibits developed in partnership with museum planning and design firm, Gallagher & Associates.
“There was a long search for the perfect location and I remember when I walked into this space, it just took my breath away.”
—Gordon Gill, co-founder of AS+GG Architecture
One of the CAC’s premier exhibits is located in the Skyscraper Gallery on the second floor, in a dramatic space with 40-foot tall windows overlooking the Chicago River and the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The exhibit, Building Tall, will be filled with supersized scale models of famous skyscrapers from Chicago and around the world, including a nearly 40-foot tall model of Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower, which will be the world’s tallest building when construction is complete in 2020.
On the first floor, the Chicago Gallery will tell the story of how Chicago became the epicenter of modern architecture. The centerpiece of the gallery is the popular Chicago Model Experience, now bigger and better than ever—expanded from 1,300 to 3,000 buildings. A film and interactive light show illuminates the Model to show Chicago’s early growth and rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire. The gallery also highlights the city’s most notable architects, its diverse neighborhoods, its unique residential architecture and innovative current projects.
Other features of the CAC include the custom-designed Joan and Gary GandLecture Hall and the ArcelorMittal Design Studio, which offers hands-on architecture experiences for students and families.
CAC members will receive free, unlimited access to the CAC year-round; free tickets to more than 65 walking tours; a buy-one-get-one-free river cruise perk; parking, store and program discounts; early access to the CAC in the last week of August; and more.
Since its founding in 1966, CAF has grown to become one of the largest cultural organizations in Chicago. In 2017, CAF reached nearly 690,000 people through its 85 docent-led tours, as well as exhibitions, lectures, education programs and online tools. The new CAC is easily accessible for visitors and centrally located for tours, allowing CAF to add to its current historic architecture tours and tell new stories about contemporary architecture along the Chicago River, Lakeshore East and North Michigan Avenue.