Chicago-Area Events and Resources

American Institute of Architects

The Chicago Chapter of American Institute of Architects occasionally presents lectures, some suitable for non-professionals.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) is an encyclopedic museum that includes one of the first departments of architecture in the country, with an extensive collection of Chicagoan and international drawings and artifacts and regular exhibitions. The Department of Architecture and Design and the Architecture & Design Society, a membership group, sponsors a program of lectures by prominent architects and designers, some of which are open free to the public. In addition, the museum’s libraries include impressive architectural holdings originating in a 1912 bequest by the Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. For architectural research, the library is a valuable complement to the University’s library and is open free to University students.

Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is an international exhibition on the contemporary global built environment held in Chicago every second autumn since 2015. It is a counterpart to the Venice Biennale of Architecture held in Italy in even-numbered years. Each exhibition has a different curatorial team and theme, and is accompanied by citywide lectures, exhibitions, performances and other events illuminating the built environment in Chicago and around the world. 

CAB 2021, on the theme, The Available City, asks us to consider the impact collective space can have in cities today. Through a reinvented and responsive global platform, this Biennial edition creates opportunities for conversations about the intersection of architecture and design and such critical issues as health, sustainability, equity, and racial justice. Opening September 17, 2021 and extending through the autumn, it features free, public programming at sites in neighborhoods across Chicago and on digital platforms.The Available City seeks to realize ideas generated in community workshops  on vacant lots in neighborhoods across the city. Currently, there are more than ten thousand city-owned, vacant sites in Chicago that each measure 25 by 125 feet. In aggregate, these lots are roughly equal in size to Chicago’s downtown center, the Loop. The Available City explores a scalable approach to urban design that recognizes the significance of addressing both individual lots while also envisioning the network of these thousands of sites as a cohesive urban landscape.

Chicago Architecture Center

The Chicago Architecture Center is the city’s main organization informing the public about Chicago’s built environment. Dedicated to promoting Chicago as a center for architectural history and innovation, it sponsors a much-loved river boat tour of Chicago skyscrapers, a great variety of tours of different parts of the city, exhibitions (including a regularly updated model of the Loop), and lectures. Each October it manages the Open House Chicago weekend, during which many buildings are opened to the public free of charge. 

Chicago History Museum

Chicago History Museum is a museum of Chicago’s social and material history. In addition to its exhibitions and events, it holds crucial archives for Chicago's architectural and urban history and operates an important research library as well as an extensive calendar of events. For research on Chicago topics the library is an important complement to the University’s library and is open without charge.

Driehaus Foundation

A major aim of the Chicago-based Driehaus Foundation is to support the preservation and enhancement of Chicago's built and natural environments. Through grants and an awards program as well as symposia and other events, it encourages historic preservation, high quality architectural and landscape design, and the conservation of open space.

Frank Lloyd Wright Trust

The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust operates the University-owned Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright as a museum and has carried out its restoration, building on its earlier museum restoration of the house and adjoining office that Wright built for his own family in the nearby suburb of Oak Park (the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio). It also offers tours of additional buildings important to Wright’s Chicago career, including Unity Temple, the Unitarian church Wright designed in Oak Park, and The Rookery, a celebrated office building in the Loop whose atrium Wright redesigned. The Trust's expanding activities include special educational programs and events as well as tours.

Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts fosters the development and exchange of diverse, challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture, and society by making project-based grants to individuals and organizations and producing exhibitions, events, and publications. Founded in 1956 with a bequest from Ernest Graham, an architect who was a protegé of Daniel Burnham and a partner in Burnham’s successor firm, it is an important source of support for architectural innovation among scholars and practitioners alike. Its exhibitions and lectures take place in a Chicago landmark: Madlener House, a Prairie Style mansion in the Gold Coast neighborhood on the North Side.

IIT College of Architecture

Shaped decisively by modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the IIT College of Architecture is a famous architecture school on the South Side of Chicago presents frequent conferences and lectures featuring  architects, theorists, historians.

MAS Context

MAS Context is an architect-run Chicago nonprofit institution sponsors lectures, events, and a journal addressing issues affecting the urban context.

National Public Housing Museum

The National Public Housing Museum, the first museum of public and publicly subsidized housing in the US, is planning its move into permanent quarters in the only remaining building of the Jane Addams Homes, a 1930s public housing project in Little Italy, on Chicago’s West Side. In the meantime, it is holding exhibitions and programs in temporary quarters on the North Side. Drawing on oral history, it showcases the social as well as architectural history of public housing.

Society of Architectural Historians

Chicago hosts the headquarters of the Society of Architectural Historians, a membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation, and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes, and urbanism worldwide. Based in the landmark Charnley House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on behalf of Louis Sullivan, the Society organizes an important annual scholarly conference and publishes a scholarly journal, as well as a series of scholarly guide books, among its varied programs. SAH includes a Chicago Chapter that organizes local lectures, tours and get-togethers. Charnley House, in the same neighborhood as the Graham Foundation, is open for tours and also houses occasional public events.

UIC School of Architecture

The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture is a major architecture school in Chicago. It hosts public lectures by architects, theorists and historians and also runs an exploration program in architectural design for newcomers to architecture.