Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Open House Chicago

Last weekend was my third consecutive year participating in Open House Chicago. For those of you unfamiliar, this is an event organized by the Chicago Architectural Foundation where over 200 buildings across Chicago provide free behind-the-scenes access. I love being a hometown tourist, and tremendously enjoy any chances to explore the city beneath the surface. This is one of my favorite weekends of the year!

The picture opportunities are always phenomenal. Here are some flashbacks to a few of my all-time favorite snapshots; these are from 2014 when Adam and I visited City Hall:
Presiding over Chicago City Council
Taking charge at the Aldermanic Offices
In case you were wondering, Adam took a slightly different approach to both of those photo opps:

Hahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

Now fast-forwarding back to 2016. I went to sites on both Saturday and Sunday, so let's talk about each day's visits.

SATURDAY
In the last two years, I've focused on downtown sites. This year, I wanted to branch out a bit. I had seen some breathtaking snapshots taken from the Ukrainian Village, so this neighborhood was on the top of my list. Here's what I saw:

Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral
During my visit, I learned this is one of just two churches designed by Louis Sullivan, and is the oldest Orthodox parish in Chicago. I also learned that construction was partly financed by a donation from Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Very cool!

Of course, hearing this made me wonder whether my favorite Blackhawks player, Artemi Panarin, has ever been there. He is Russian and known to be quite religious, so it would seem to be the perfect fit, yes???

Saint Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral
Onsite, I learned this is a remodeled German Lutheran church. It is intriguing to me when houses of worship are redesigned for different audiences, so to speak. I loved the multidimensional ceiling with the beautiful artwork.

Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral
I was stunned by the beautiful domes, paintings, stained glass, and blue ceilings adorned with what reminded me of a starry sky. I learned this building was modeled after St. Sophia Cathedral in the Ukraine.

Sts. Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church
Apparently St. Volodymyr is very prominent since the Ukrainian Village has two houses of worship that bear his name. Once again, I was awestruck by the lush blue and gold hues, the enormous and ornate chandelier, and the intricate artwork.

To conclude Saturday: The Ukrainian Village is a neighborhood in which I haven't done much exploring, but seeing these four spectacular churches definitely piqued my interest to spend more time there!

SUNDAY
Today, it was back to the downtown area to see some sights closer to home. After seeing the four churches the day before, I was looking forward to mixing things up on Day 2. Adam joined me for the first four sites of the day. Together we saw:

The Chicago Board of Trade 
Being a finance major, I was hoping to see the trading floor. I had been plotting out photo ops where I would be pretending to buy and sell futures and options. =D Unfortunately, we learned upon arrival that the floor is generally closed to the public. Bummer!

Nevertheless, we got to go into the CBOT's enormous vault. This was the vault door:
No messing around with this vault! It reminded me of the scenes from Ocean's Eleven. When I walked in, I had Basher's voice in my head saying, "Oh, leave it out. You tossers! You had one job to do!"
Ocean's Eleven aficionados, you all recognize this scene, yes?
Here are some of the lockboxes inside the vault:
Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture
This is a penthouse architecture office. I am guessing it is a very high-powered firm.
Based on what I've heard about architecture firms in general, I can imagine a lot of feverish late nights have been worked in these areas.

The space had fabulous city views and amenities, such as this little courtyard inlet:
I would enjoy eating lunch out there when the weather is nice! It'd be a great miniature escape from the computer.

MediaScience
This innovative firm specializes in consumer neuroscience research. As people watch TV or view content on computer screens, state-of-the-art tools measure biometrics, facial muscle movement, eye gaze, reaction times and more. These metrics have become critical resources for many of the largest brands in the entertainment industry and beyond.

Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos, so here is a photo from the Open House site:
Source
I got to try a biometric analysis using a computer that measured my facial expressions and eye movements. It was scary to witness how accurately the machines could detect what I was doing. Very sci-fi!

During our visit, we learned MediaScience was recruiting folks to participate in paid research studies using their systems. I signed up. =)

Loop Synagogue
Adam and I both used to work less than a block away from the Loop Synagogue. During that time, I've probably walked past it a few thousand times, but never noticed it was there.

On the first floor, there was a smaller worship room of which I didn't take pictures. This room had a divider for traditional Orthodox Jewish practices, in which men and women did not sit together. From what I understand, such practices are not common in our current day and age, so this was a bit of a surprising discovery.

On the second floor was a much larger worship area, complete with stadium seats (Adam said this is since services can be quite lengthy):
Check out the gorgeous full-length stained-glass wall:
I loved the designs and can imagine how stunning the backdrop must be during worship.

At this point, Adam headed home to take care of a few things while I continued on to two more sites.

Joffrey Tower
Many years ago, I worked for a firm who was a strong supporter of the Joffrey Ballet. The firm loaned staff to the Joffrey Ballet on a rotational basis, so I got to work in the Joffrey Ballet's development team for a few months. It was a really fun experience and it was unique to witness the operations behind the scenes. At the time, the Joffrey Ballet was located in a different building, so this was my first time seeing their new home.

Visitors saw a sampling of some of the stage costumes, and learned about the enormous amount of time and expense invested in the dancers' shoes and outfits:
Then we got to see one of the practice facilities, which had breathtaking city views:
It was interesting to learn about all the considerations that went into designing the practice studio. E.g., The ceiling were very high to accommodate jumps/throws; the floor featured softer landing surfaces to be easier on the joints; and each studio included sound-proofing such that multiple practice studios could operate simultaneously without side disturbance.

Marquee at Block 37
This was my final site visit. I thought this was an office, so I was surprised to discover it is a luxury residential building. Visitors got to see a studio and a one-bedroom apartment.
Note the view of the colorful building artwork visible outside the window
Staff even showed us the rental prices. They were high, but the downtown location obviously commands a very high premium. Further, the building has resort-like amenities. This picture of the pool deck definitely does not do it justice:
One of the best parts: The building had a perfect view of Daley Plaza. You could see the Picasso statue as well as the Daley Plaza fountains, which are dyed blue for the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs:
Pretty cool, eh?

That concluded my 2016 Open House Chicago site visits! I managed to see a total of ten sites over two days, which is an Open House PR for me. The two days were such a fun experience. I am already looking forward to next year's Open House Chicago weekend!

--
Linking up with LaurenVanIsabel and Marcella for Wanderful Wednesday; with Chris and HeatherLaurenAshleyAmanda and Brian, and Carolann and Macrae for Weekend Wanderlust; and with LynArnie and JoSally-AnnAnda, and Anisa and Katherine for The Weekly Postcard.  

42 comments:

  1. Cool! Isn't it funny how you can walk by a building for years and never see it, like you mention with the synagogue? It's amazing how humans can be so observant and so disconnected depending on the context.

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    1. Totally! Makes me think of the beautiful centuries-old historical buildings all across Europe. I bet the local residents walk by those jewels every day without even a second glance!

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    2. And I bet they look at Americans and think similar things about us! =)

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  2. That sounds really fun! I'd love to do that one of these years.

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    1. Come join the festivities next year!!! I think the whole family would really enjoy the experience!

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  3. Those churches are incredible. I had the same feeling in St. Petersburg at Church on Spilled Blood. So much planning and detail in one building.

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    1. Oh my goodness - St. Petersburg had so many spectacular artifacts. It really is amazing how much detail goes into some of these buildings!

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  4. It's so fun to be a tourist in your own city! I need to do this more often. Those churches in Ukrainian Village are breathtaking. Were they open just for your walk? I can't imagine that they are open all the time..

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    1. Yes, it's wonderful to "travel" without the added costs! I'm not sure how accessible the Ukrainian Village churches are to the public. I imagine anyone is welcome during the worship services, but then it's a little more awkward to be walking around taking photos, right? =)

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  5. Holy cow you guys have so much fun in your own town! I'd love to work in that media room!

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    1. Chicago is very blessed with amazing hidden gems! I'd love to work in the media room, too. Feels very high-powered. =D

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  6. What a great concept. Like you said, we walk by some of these buildings thousands of times but never know how interesting they are and how cool they look on the inside.

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    1. Very much so! Cheers to whoever came up with the idea to organize an event like this. It's so much fun to go out exploring!

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  7. Looks like you saw a lot of cool stuff in one weekend! Super cool!

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    1. Thank you, Kayla!!! I wish I could have seen even more - I feel like I still barely scratched the surface! I'm already scheming for next year. =)

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  8. The cathedral ceilings and elaborate art are stunning! and the stained glass in the synagogue is beyond! So pretty...
    It is so cool to visit a studio apartment like that. It is such a different lifestyle.
    I like city manager Emily and Adam LOL

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the sights as much as I did!!! There's something really cool about getting to peak into others' homes and see how they live, yes? It is a very different lifestyle - one that would have to be pretty minimalistic, since space is at such a premium. Thanks Karen!

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  9. Those churches are SO beautiful! I love walking through churches during Open House - it's incredible how much beauty is in the city that you don't even know about. I'm jealous you got to go to Joffrey! I was out of town on Sunday and it was closed on Saturday, so sadly I had to miss it. I'm hoping it will be a site next year as well and I can go then!

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    1. The churches at Open House are stunning indeed! I read your recap of the places you visited during Open House, yourself, and enjoyed hearing about the UIC history. I had wanted to visit those buildings but didn't have time. Bummer that you missed the Joffrey but they said they receive a LOT of visitors so I am guessing they'll host again next year. =) I hope you can see it then, too!

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  10. I LOVED Open House again this year. Looks like we went to some of the same places too - I wonder if we passed by each other! If I can get my act together I want to post some of my photos as well :)

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    1. Oh gosh - I wish I had known you were going to be at some of those places, it would have been great to meet up with you! Please do share your photos!!!

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    2. We will have to set up a coffee date or something to meet - I would love to!

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    3. Let's do it! Would love to meet up in person after reading your blog for so long. =) My email is eeseto@gmail.com, let's find a time soon!!!

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  11. I've never heard of this event so far. I wonder if they have it outside Chicago as well. It must be interesting to get a behind-the-scene view of these buildings. Thanks for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    1. Thanks for hosting The Weekly Postcard! I am hearing NYC, Milwaukee, and Perth host similar events. I am sure there are others, too - I'm going to start keeping an eye out for them. It's such a great concept!

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  12. They have a similar event in NYC and Ive gone several time. My favorite thing I did was the behind the scenes tour at the UN. You just have to book your ticket right when the site opens! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

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    1. So cool that NYC hosts a similar event! Can you imagine the variety of buildings you could see? I would be ENTHRALLED to visit the UN. I need to find out when the NYC event takes place and make a weekend out of it. =) Thank you for hosting the Weekly Postcard!!!

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  13. I haven't been to Chicago in... well, it was the 70's. Looks like you had a great time, and that I need to return. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. Oh my goodness, come visit Chicago again! The city has changed TREMENDOUSLY just in the last few years, let alone since the 70s. I bet you would be astounded by the progression! Even us longtime city residents are enthralled by all the improvements. =)

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  14. We have open house events here in Perth, Western Australia and we try and get to them each year. I love behind the scenes visits and try and include in my travels, just did one in Bali. I have never made it to US but when I go I'll keep this one in mind.

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    1. OMG - Bali hosts an Open House event??? That would be such an incredible experience!!! I'd also love to visit Perth, in general, as I've never been to Western Australia. Will keep this in mind if/when I ever get there!!!

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  15. We used to have Open Houses in Bristol, England where I used to live and I always wanted to partake and never got around to it, I'm gutted! How fabulous you embrace it and it's so worthwhile, look at the ceiling on St Nicholas Ukranian Catholic!!! #WanderfulWednesday

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    1. Oh my goodness - how cool would that have been to enjoy Open Houses in Bristol! That is too bad that you didn't get to participate but you can always go back. =) Thank you so much - we are very blessed here in Chicago with so many hidden gems!!!

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  16. wow I have never seen ukrainian cathedral before! The ceiling was so intricate and colorful! #WeekendWanderlust

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    1. It was a very cool experience to see a Ukrainian cathedral, indeed! The artwork is truly amazing!

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  17. The open house event sounds great. I am not sure if we have something like that in Los Angeles. Anyway, I am blown away by the churches in the Ukrainian village. Do you know if they can be visited outside this event? #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. How cool would it be to attend an event like that in Los Angeles, if they did, yes? The churches in the Ukrainian Village really are mindblowing - I think a lot of people live nearby and walk by without realizing what is inside of them! My guess is that they are open to anyone during their services, but probably not at other times. It's worth investigating, though, yes?

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  18. What a wonderful opportunity to explore the city. There are a few other places that do this but I would love to be there in Chicago for their open house.

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    1. Thank you, Corinne! I need to keep my eyes open for other cities that host events like this - it's worth making a weekend trip out of it! Come on by to Chicago for the event next October!!!

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  19. Omg this is amazing! Chicago is one of my favorite cities and this looks like a really great way to explore it! There is so much beauty there!

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    1. Thanks Lindsay! So glad to hear Chicago is one of your favorite cities, it is my hometown so I am very proud of it. =)

      Do you have an active blog? I wanted to "comment back" so I clicked on your profile. It listed two blogs - a "test" blog and another one where the last post was in 2014?

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