Recently, I had the chance to attend “Open House Chicago”, a free, city-wide, behind-the-scenes look at many of Chicago’s great places and spaces.   The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s “Open House Chicago” offered behind-the-scenes access to over 150 buildings.  This was the second annual open house event and it offered an amazing opportunity to observe some impressive architecture.  I found it a great chance to explore some cool buildings I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to see, and now you can too!

From Rockford it was a quick drive into Harvard and a few hours on the Metra to take me into the city.  My first stop was at the Civic Opera House, a beautiful theater designed by architecture firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White and opened in 1929.  Note the repeating Sock and Buskin (Comedy/Tragedy mask faces) as a detail in many ceilings, railings, & Lighting fixtures.  Very cool Art Deco!

My next Stop was The Chicago Temple Building, best known for its “chapel in the sky,” the highest place of worship above ground level.  Completed in 1924, this building had some great views. It currently is the tallest church building in the world and until 1930 was the tallest building in the world!

Before lunch I made one more quick stop at The Church of Christ Scientist and was impressed with the stunning forms and spaces.  Designed by architect Harry Weese the church is a modern style with an interesting sunken garden. (no photos sorry!)

            Stopped for lunch at the infamous Billy Goat Tavern.  This little gem is located under Michigan Avenue.  The restaurant was made famous by an early SNL skit that the restaurant still lives up to.  Other notable info about this restaurant is that according to legend the original owner put the curse of the Billy goat on the Chicago Cubs.  Allegedly, during game 4 of the 1945 World Series game (a home game at Wrigley) Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis attempted to bring a pet goat (the tavern mascot) into the game.  Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley ejected Sianis and goat because of the goat’s smell. Supposedly, Sianis placed a curse on the team that they would not win another pennant or play in a World Series again.

The Chicago Open House also featured several large architecture firms.  I got a chance to visit SOM, Gensler and the Structural engineering offices of Thorton Tomasetti.  This last picture is a Model of the city of Chicago in the offices of SOM.  (There are actually TWO models; one in the building lobby, and one in the SOM office.  however no photographs were allowed in the SOM office so this is a picture of the model in the building lobby)

Hope you enjoyed hearing about my adventure.  Make sure you mark your calendar for next year’s Open House Chicago!

Stay tuned for more exciting Tyson and Billy Blog’s to come!!!


-Carl Miller


*Photography by my accomplice Sean Ogilby

**Information gathered from tour guides, pamphlets, and Wikipedia.