Chicago Architecture Foundation

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Coordinates: 41°52′43″N 87°37′29″W / 41.878537°N 87.624845°W / 41.878537; -87.624845

Chicago Architecture Foundation headquarters

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is a nonprofit organization based in Chicago, Illinois, USA, whose mission is to inspire people to discover why architecture and design matters. It is well known for its public programs, most notably the docent-led architecture cruise on the Chicago River, and bus, walking, bike, Segway and 'L' train tours of the Chicago-area. CAF is also known for its scale model of downtown Chicago.[1] CAF was named the #1 best thing to do in Chicago by U.S. News and World Report in 2012.

CAF offers more than 85 different tours of the city. All tours are led by highly trained volunteer docents who go through a vigorous 14-week training course before being certified to lead CAF tours. Many tours in the Loop include historic buildings such as the Chicago Board of Trade, the Marquette Building, the Monadnock Building, and Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root's Rookery among many others. Some modern buildings that are explored include the Inland Steel Building, Mies van der Rohe's Chicago Federal Center and the Trump Tower. CAF also offers tours of Millennium Park. During the summer months (April-September) CAF offers tours of various neighborhoods throughout Chicago in addition to Loop tours. CAF's most popular tour, the CAF River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady Cruises has departures April-November every year. CAF offers tours year-round with no tours offered on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation was founded in 1966 as the Chicago School of Architecture Foundation to save H. H. Richardson's Glessner House, one of Chicago's oldest residences. In 1971, it began to offer lectures and volunteer-led tours of Chicago to the public. In 1979 it was renamed the Chicago Architecture Foundation. In 2009 CAF opened a new exhibition, Chicago Model City, which includes a scale model of the central area of the city and has proven so popular that it is now on permanent display.[2] In addition, CAF provides educational material for the Chicago primary and secondary school system.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is also proud to host the largest annual architecture event in the city, Open House Chicago (OHC). This free, annual event gives the public access to buildings and spaces around the city that are typically closed to the public. Held over a weekend in October, OHC attracts tens of thousands of participants from across the country and around the world.

CAF offers a robust architecture and design education program and has received several awards for their curricula and textbooks including Schoolyards to Skylines, the Architecture Handbook, and

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is located at 224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago in the Chicago Loop's historic Santa Fe Building. It offers exhibitions about architecture, infrastructure, cities, and design. Lectures, panel discussions, education programs and architecture tours are also offered. The CAF Shop, which offers unique Chicago gifts as well as architecture and design themed merchandise, is also located at 224 South Michigan Avenue.


  1. ^ "CAF Tours". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  2. ^ Blair Kamin (June 2, 2009). "A new model of Chicago's Loop, emerging next week in the CAF's "Chicago Model City" show". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-09-07. 

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