About the Chicago Architecture Center

The Chicago Architecture Center is a must-visit home to the history of Chicago's architectural wonders, including its soaring skyscrapers, historic homes, glamourous hotels and spectacular churches. Learn about the conceptualization, development and construction of famous buildings like Willis Tower, John Hancock Center, Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower and more. Explore a variety of changing and permanent exhibits, including the Chicago City Model Experience, a star gallery that features over 4,000 buildings and interactive elements that tell the story of the city, and the Building Tall exhibit, which showcases supersized scale models of famous skyscrapers from Chicago and around the world.

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Building Tall

Marvel at people-sized scale models of famous skyscrapers from Chicago and around the world in the stunning Drake Family Skyscraper Gallery. These 'mini' skyscrapers reveal how design and engineering innovations have spurred a never-ending “race to the top” as architects attempt to out-do each other on building heights. See how boundaries have been broken in the contstruction of skyscrapers like the Home Insurance Building (one of the world’s first) and the Willis Tower (previously Sears Tower, which held the title of world’s tallest building for nearly 25 years). You can also see a 39-foot-tall model of Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower, anticipated to be the world’s next tallest building, and look at a collection of detailed models on loan from architecture firms around the world.

Chicago City Model Experience

Fans of miniatures and intricate detail will love The Chicago City Model Experience, a star attraction in the Chicago Architecture Center. Here you'll see over 4,000 small-scale versions of the city's buildings arranged to emulate the city's lakefront, accentuated with a film and light show that illuminates the model with the amazing story of Chicago’s early growth, its rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire and its ever-changing skyline. Interact with the Model via touch screens - search for buildings by architect or architectural style, and see data projected on the Model.

Chicago Gallery

How did Chicago became the “city of architecture”? The story unfolds in the Chicago Gallery - here you can explore the architectural signatures of five evolving neighborhoods, take a closer look at Chicago’s residential architecture, learn about the architects who shaped the city, and discover upcoming building projects. From Louis Sullivan to Mies van der Rohe, Chicago has been home and inspiration to many famous architects, some of them responsible for distict architectural styles and groundbreaking experiments in design. Explore their impact and examining the wider influence of architecture in Chicago. See common Chicago home styles and look at how neighborhoods have changed across the city.

Tours, Programs & Events

The Chicago Architecture Center offers over 85 specialty tours, led by expert docent guides. For an extra cost, you can join a tour to learn more about a certain facet of Chicago's architectural history, like the history of Chicago's Golden Age buildings, the riverfront's Art Deco skyscrapers, the elevated architecture of Chicago's L Train, or the city's modern architecture. You can also get involved in special programs and events like workshops, discussions, and even the annual Chicago Open House Festival (October).