In his critique of Toronto architecture, in which he outlined a new vision for the city, star architect Frank Gehry did not shy away from criticizing major urban centres around the world.
When asked by the National Post how he would describe the state of architecture in Toronto, Gehry said it was ‘mostly banal, like every city in the world.’ His response served as a wide-reaching condemnation of the built form, as he managed to cast aspersions on built landscapes everywhere.
Gehry did, however, manage to name one admirable city in a world of cities lacking in ‘homogeneous or connected’ environments. He was definitive in naming early Chicago architecture as a standout, at least in the west.
“Now it’s getting trashed a bit, but pretty much it’s the best architectural city in the western hemisphere, I think,” he said.
The city’s status as a hub of great historic architecture will be on display with the hosting of Open House Chicago.
In a celebration of the strong architectural history and culture, the Chicago Architecture Foundation will run the tours, which enable the public to explore the architecture of the town and visit buildings and spaces that would usually be off-limits.
The tour allows architects – and lovers of architecture – worldwide to take a peek into this beautiful city while building on the kind of community spirit that is garnered by understanding and respecting one’s built environment. Not only are the older buildings explored, but visitors can also learn about new architecture and wider industry developments undertaken around the city, as well as what can be expected next.
After a drastic boom in interest after last year’s event, Open House Chicago has since increased in its scope, offering to broaden the architectural line up to include spaces that have not, and may not again, be toured by the public. Open House Chicago managing director Bastiaan Bouma describes the spaces to be explored, and how through touring these cultural hubs, an understanding of the evolution of the city can be obtained.
“Explore a community outside of downtown that you have a sense about but with which you’re not really familiar,” he said. “In Pilsen, Thalia Hall is a restaurant/theater/apartment complex from the Bohemian past that illustrates how a building serves communities as they change over time. Uptown has the Green Mill, Riviera Theatre and Aragon Ballroom. It’s also home to what was reportedly once the largest active synagogue in the city. This might be the first and last time available for public touring.”
The event is often praised for breaking down the barriers to these exclusive buildings and allowing all to share in the experience they offer.
Open House Chicago will run over the next two days, from 9am – 5pm.