Five Austin buildings are featured in this weekend’s Chicago Architecture Center’s Open House Chicago.
The free event held Oct. 15 and 16 allows attendees to explore buildings with historical and architectural significance; this year event includes 150 sites from more than 20 Chicago neighborhoods and suburban Oak Park.
Although the total is down from 350 sites in 2019, this year marks an increase over 2020, when visitors were encouraged to view sites from outside because of the pandemic, and last year, when there was closer to 100 sites, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Returning Austin sites are Kehrein Center for the Arts, Austin Community Family Center and the Fraternité Notre Dame church. New this year are the Austin branch library and Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School.
A newly launched mobile app will have self-guided walking tours and virtual programs that will be available the entire month of October, said Adam Rubin, the Chicago Architectural Center’s director of interpretation. Using the app, users can take a tour of four homes designed by Frederick Schock in the late 1800s.
“The way we’ve crafted Open House is to encourage people to explore … and really be a citizen of the city,” Rubin said.
Older buildings are “place makers” of the community, but Open House also looks for contemporary designs like Christ the King Jesuit school, Rubin said.
“It’s a really cool example of what school architecture looks like today and used fairly inexpensive materials in a creative way,” Rubin said.
The school was designed by John Ronan Architects, which is designing the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. It features an environmental green roof and has won awards from the Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola, said Mike Smith, senior director of marketing and communications at Christ the King.
“It’s nice to obviously represent the community and welcome people in from who have not been here before into the area and kind of showcase what we’re doing from a student and family standpoint,” Smith said.
Open House Chicago worked with Austin Coming Together and West Side Forward to learn what residents want to present to Chicagoans.
“That might be showing off to people who are coming to Austin for the first time, and it might be showing off to people who just never seen their neighborhood presented this way,” Rubin said.
“It’s a way to walk out your door and walk down the street to that church that you passed by a thousand times on your way to work but you’ve never had an excuse to go inside or [you’re not] a member of the congregation.”
The annual event used to attract 100,000 visitors before the pandemic but that dropped to around 40,000 in 2021, the Sun-Times reported. The event relies on about 1,500 volunteers working four-hour shifts.
Here are details about the featured Austin sites:
Kehrein Center for the Arts, 5628 W. Washington Blvd. – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School, 5088 W. Jackson Blvd. – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Austin Community Family Center, 501 N. Central Ave. – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fraternité Notre Dame, 502 N. Central Ave. – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday fro 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Austin Branch Library, 5615 W. Race Ave.l – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.