Chicago Architecture Foundation

Welcome to the Chicago Architecture Foundation! We offer engaging ways for educators, families, and young people to explore Chicago’s amazing architecture.

Through hands-on, real-world explorations discover how to turn your local community into a dynamic setting for teaching and learning.  Buildings, structures, people, and events help young people discover how architecture and the built environment impact their lives everyday.

Our programs and resources include multi-disciplinary teacher workshops, award-winning curricular resources, place-based field trips, hands-on workshops for teens, scout badge programs, and A+DEN-a network for people interested in design education.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) offers more than 80 different tours including the Chicago Architecture Foundation architecture river cruise aboard the Chicago’s First Lady. Also offered: FREE exhibitions, programs and workshops, youth education, family programs and an architecture and design-themed retail store.

Chicago Architecture Foundation

Address:

224 South Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60604

P. 312.922.3432

F. 312.922.0481

W. Chicago Architecture Foundation

Shop & Tour Center Hours

9am—6:30pm (Sat-Thurs)

9am—7pm (Fri)

Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day

Tours Available

How to Schedule a Group Field Trip

Reservations are required for all field trips, and reservation requests should be made at least six weeks in advance.

Download a copy of our Field Trip Reservation Form.  Send a completed copy of the reservation form (one copy per field trip) to the Chicago Architecture Foundation:

Fax: 312.277.1040

Email: Grouptours@architecture.org

Mail: Chicago Architecture Foundation,

 

Attention: Group Tours Department

224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60604

Reservations will be processed according to the date they are received. A field trip confirmation agreement indicating your tour date and other relevant information will be sent immediately to the contact information you have provided. Please wait to arrange transportation until you have received your confirmation agreement.

Other important information about your field trip

Please review the following information to help you prepare for your field trip: Preparing for your field trip with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

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Popular Tour Locations

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School and Summer Camp Groups (K-8th)

Field Trips at Chicago Architecture Foundation

(Grades K – 8th)

CAF’s interactive field trips help students in grades K – 8 explore the city and its buildings. Led by volunteer docents who are specially trained to work with young people, these field trips encourage student participation and inquiry and support Illinois Learning Standards.

Join us to explore big ideas in architecture – from columns and cantilevers, to architectural design and the International Style.

– “I really enjoyed learning about cantilevers! I must have walked by thousands of them but I never really appreciated how difficult but beautiful they are! Who invented the cantilevers anyway? I learned so much but still have so much more to learn!” – 3rd grade student

– “Great field trip – looking forward to next year! Can I do this when I retire?” – Chicago public elementary school teacher

School Field Trips Tour s Available

ART IN ARCHITECTURE

Grades K – 8

Buildings are works of art in which we live, work, and learn. How do architects use art to make their buildings distinctive?

Art in Architecture is a 90-minute walking tour designed for students in grades K – 8. The field trip explores how art and architecture intersect in three unique buildings in downtown Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, the Harold Washington Library, and the Federal Center. Through guided sketching activities, students investigate architectural and artistic elements at each building.

Field Trip Details

Days and time Weekdays year-round, from 10:15 to 11:45am.

If this time frame does not meet your needs, please contact us about alternate days and times.

Location: Begin at – Chicago Architecture Foundation, Santa Fe Building, 224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago

End at – Federal Center, at Adams and Dearborn

Duration: 90 minutes

Recommended Grade Level: Grades K – 8

Group Size: 10 to 60 students (1 chaperone is required for every 5 students)

Cost: $4.00 per student

No charge for required chaperones; $4.00 charge for each additional adult.

PICTURING AMERICA

Grades K – 12

Did your school receive one of the 2556 Picturing America image sets sent to Illinois schools from the National Endowment for the Humanities? Are you looking for engaging ways to link this image collection of the nation’s artistic heritage to classroom studies and field trips?

We work with teachers to create interactive field trips linking the Picturing America image collection to Chicago examples by the same artists featured in the collection. Through first-hand explorations, your students will gain a richer understanding of the collection, the artists, and the historical context of these American masterpieces.

Picturing America is a program from the National Endowment for the Humanities in cooperation with the American Library Association.

Contact us for more details Grouptours@Architecture.org

STRUCTURE:

THE SECRET OF SKYSCRAPERS

Grades 3-4

Discover how architects design skyscrapers to stand tall and stay standing!

Structure: The Secret of Skyscrapers is an interactive field trip for Grades 3 – 4 that will help you unlock the structural ‘secrets’ to Chicago’s spectacular skyscrapers.

Through hands-on activities at the Chicago Architecture Foundation you and your students will learn about seven structural elements, like columns, cantilevers, trusses, arches, and domes. You’ll then become structural detectives as you and a CAF docent educator embark on an architectural walking tour to identify structures at work in real buildings in downtown Chicago.

Each group receives a Structure Prep Pack including instructions for pre-and post-visit activities, plus student booklets on the day of the field trip.

– “The docents are extremely knowledgeable, patient, and have a great rapport with my students.  I am always impressed with this trip.” – Teacher, Chicago

– “I really enjoyed learning about cantilevers! I must have walked by thousands of them but I never really appreciated how difficult but beautiful they are! Who invented the cantilevers anyway? I learned so much but still have so much more to learn!” – 3rd grade student, Chicago

Field Trip Details

Days and time

Weekdays year-round, from 10:15 to 11:45am.

If this time frame does not meet your needs, please contact us about alternate days and times.

Location: Begin at – Chicago Architecture Foundation, Santa Fe Building, 224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago

End at – 190 South LaSalle (corner of Adams and LaSalle)

Duration: 90 minutes

Recommended grade level: Grades 3 – 4

Group size: 10 to 60 students (1 chaperone is required for every 5 students)

Cost: $4.00 per student

No charge for required chaperones; $4.00 charge for each additional adult.

THE STUDENT LOOP TOUR

Grades 5 – 8

What can you learn from buildings? What stories do they tell?

Are your students curious about the city and eager to learn about its history and architecture? The Student Loop Tour is a field trip designed for students in grades 5 through 8 (scout troops and clubs are welcome). This walking tour of Chicago’s Loop pairs 10 significant buildings with 10 architectural themes to help students learn about Chicago’s amazing architecture and take home new skills for understanding how the built environment impacts them each day.

– This is the best field trip I have been to in years.  – Teacher, Chicago suburb

 I loved seeing all the different buildings and learning the history and connection behind them. I have lived in Chicago my whole life and before today I knew absolutely nothing about our architecture or how diverse it is!  – 7th grade student, Chicago

Each group receives a Teacher Prep Pack, which includes instructions for pre- and post-visit activities and a CD-ROM with color images of tour buildings, plus student booklets on the day of the field trip.

  • Santa Fe Building
  • CNA Center
  • Building
  • DePaul Center
  • Harold Washington Library
  • Old Colony Building
  • Fisher Building
  • Monadnock Building
  • Federal Center
  • Marquette Building

Field Trip Details

Days and time: Weekdays year-round, from 10:15 to 11:45am.

If this time frame does not meet your needs, please contact us about alternate days and times.

Location: Begin at – Chicago Architecture Foundation, Santa Fe Building, 224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago. End at – Federal Center (on Adams at Dearborn)

Duration: 90 minutes

Recommended grade level: Grades 5 – 8

Group size: 10 to 60 students (1 chaperone is required for every 5 students)

Cost: $4.00 per student

No charge for required chaperones; $4.00 charge for each additional adult.

School and Summer Camp Groups 9th -12th Grade

Field Trips at Chicago Architecture Foundation

(Grades 9th – 12th)

HIGH SCHOOL TOURS

By foot, boat or bus CAF tours are great ways for your high school group to learn and appreciate the past, present and future of Chicago’s world-renowned architecture. Your students can embrace the power of the skyscrapers and the beauty of Chicago while the most knowledgeable docents entertain them with stories of the men and women who built America’s greatest architecture.Choose from one of our four tour offerings below.

Interested in an experience not listed here?

Offers over 85 tours that can be customized to fit your classroom’s special interest. Call the Group Tours Department for more information today! 312.922.3432 x226


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Student Architecture River Cruise – 60 minutes

Join the Chicago Architecture Foundation and Chicago’s First Lady Cruises for an interpretive architectural river cruise specially designed for students grades 7-12. This tour features many of Chicago’s best known buildings from the unique vantage point of the Chicago River, described by our trained and certified volunteer docents. Students will connect architecture, design, engineering, urban planning, and history to enhance their understanding and appreciation of Chicago’s remarkable cultural legacy.


Historic and Modern Combo Walking Tour – 120 minutes

Chicago is widely regarded as the center of early skyscraper innovation and also a world capital of Modern architecture! On this tour your students will learn the stories behind some of the world’s earliest skyscrapers and also gain a unique perspective on the most notable examples of contemporary buildings and styles.


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Skyscraper Express Bus Tour – 105 minutes

Students will enjoy unique perspectives of the city as they see Grant Park, the Museum Campus, Millennium Park and Chicago’s expansive downtown parks plus emerging residential neighborhoods and commercial development. Your class will understand the impact of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, the railroads and public transportation systems on the growth of the city, and we will have a chance to get off the bus to view the world-famous skyline that defines Chicago as a vibrant center for architecture.


Skyscraper Walk through Time – 60 minutes

Chicago is known for building some of the world’s first skyscrapers, but how have their designs and technologies changed over time? This one hour walk through the Loop showcases several classic buildings – from 1872 to the present. See how architects adapted building styles to meet the fashions of their era and used cutting-edge engineering to build taller than before!

 

Booking a School Trip

How to Schedule a Field Trip

Reservations are required for all field trips, and reservation requests should be made at least six weeks in advance.

Download a copy of our Field Trip Reservation Form.  Send a completed copy of the reservation form (one copy per field trip) to the Chicago Architecture Foundation:

Fax: 312.277.1040

Email: Grouptours@architecture.org

Mail: Chicago Architecture Foundation,

Attention: Group Tours Department

224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60604

Reservations will be processed according to the date they are received. A field trip confirmation agreement indicating your tour date and other relevant information will be sent immediately to the contact information you have provided. Please wait to arrange transportation until you have received your confirmation agreement.

Other important information about your field trip

Please review the following information to help you prepare for your field trip: Preparing for your field trip with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Scout Groups

Field Trips at Chicago Architecture Foundation

(Scout Groups)

CALLING ALL SCOUTS!

The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers exciting hands-on programs that help Scouts explore architecture and the built environment. Read on to learn more about what the Chicago Architecture Foundation has to offer your Scout, Troop, or Council group.

Riverwalk Hike for Scouts in 2nd through 4th grade

Walk over 2 miles with us along the Riverwalk to artist Ellen Lanyon’s Gateway and a secret map.

Architecture Badge Program for Scouts in 4th grade and older

Build your architectural skills, exercise your creative muscle, and earn a badge with the Chicago Architecture Foundation!

Please read our Leader Prep Information for a successful Scout visit.

Additional opportunities for scout groups

  • Are you interested in nurturing an interest in architecture in your scouts but can’t join us for a full morning of activities? Want help earning just part of a badge? No problem!
  • We are happy to help Girl Scout and Boy Scout groups jump start an architectural exploration or fulfill portions of their badge requirements through field trips in downtown Chicago and other resources for youth groups.
  • Check out our Field Trips to learn more about how our walking tours can support your scouting endeavors.
  •  Explore our award-winning K – 8 Teaching Resource, Schoolyards to Skylines, which is full of dynamic, hands-on activities that will help your scouts explore the built world around them.
  • The Architecture Handbook: A Student Guide to Understanding Buildings is an award-winning high school curriculum – the first of its kind in the country – that teaches students the fundamentals of architectural design.
  • For high school-age scouts, join us at our Saturdays in the Studio workshops. These hands-on workshops help students learn skills related to architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning from professionals working in those fields.

For more information about scout programs, please contact us!

Chicago Architecture Foundation

Youth Education Department

224 South Michigan Avenue

Chicago, IL 60604

Phone: 312.922.3432 x243

Education@Architecture.org

 

Teacher Programs

Chicago Architecture Foundation

EDUCATORS

Wonder how to connect architecture to your classroom lessons? The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers an exciting array of learning opportunities and resources for educators. Take a professional development teacher workshop to learn strategies for incorporating architecture into your daily lessons. Check out our award-winning curricular resources. Book an exciting place-based field trip for your students. Connect to other architecture and design educators through A+DEN.

TEACHER WORKSHOPS

Hunting for new ways to help your students to better understand the city and its buildings—past, present, and future? Searching for practical, innovative, and hands-on classroom activities?

The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers professional development workshops for teachers throughout the school year and during the summer. Behind-the-scenes tours, knowledgeable speakers, and classroom-ready activities that meet Illinois Learning Standards provide teachers with both educational and personal enrichment.

At CAF, Chicago’s architecture comes alive and serves as a learning laboratory where students and teachers discover how the built environment impacts them each day.

TEACHER RESOURCES

Are you looking for engaging ways to introduce architecture to your students? Check out the curricular resources for K-12 teachers and home school groups developed by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Schoolyards to Skylines (K-8) and The Architecture Handbook (high school) use a hand-on approach to bring the built environment alive and make it relevant to you and your students.

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Schoolyards to Skylines: Teaching With Chicago’s Amazing Architecture

CAF’s award-winning K – 8 Teaching Resource


The Architecture Handbook: A Student Guide to Understanding Buildings

CAF’s award-winning high school architecture curriculum

Student Edition (full color, soft cover, 400 pages)


The Architecture Handbook: A Student Guide to Understanding Buildings

CAF’s award-winning high school architecture curriculum

Teacher Edition (3-ring binder with CD-ROM, black and white version includes student pages plus hands-on activities, 600 pages)


DiscoverDesign.org

CAF’s new digital learning tool connects teens, teachers, and design professionals. An interactive resource for project-based learning.

To advance public interest and education in design and architecture, Chicago Architecture Foundation [CAF] and the American Architectural Foundation [AAF] established A+DEN, the Architecture+Design Education Network. A+DEN is a collaborative association of like-minded organizations in the fields of architecture and design, committed to promoting innovative architecture and design education for teachers and students in grades K -12. The founding partners, CAF and AAF, each have more than 40 years of experience developing educational programs that introduce school-aged youth and their teachers to the built environment. They partnered in presenting the National Symposium on K-12 Design Education in 2004 and launched A+DEN in October 2005.

Architecture and design education draws upon the creative design process to teach and learn core academic subjects: math, science, social sciences, language arts, fine and visual arts. Incorporating the design process into academic subjects enhances the ability of students to think critically and creatively. Additionally, using the built environment as a foundation for learning fosters educators’ and students’ interest in their surrounding community, and prepares citizens to participate in making informed decisions about the built environment.

For more information on A+DEN, visit: http://www.adenweb.org

Students Teen Programs

Chicago Architecture Foundation

REGISTER HERE FOR STUDIOS

models from a satruday workshop

Saturday Studios

Saturdays In The Studio (SITS) are studio-based workshops rooted in design challenges, hands-on creative exercises and communication skills for Chicago-area high school students like you!

Workshops are designed around a variety of themes that help the emerging designer understand the exciting world of architecture, engineering and construction. We make the SITS fun and informative, plus you get to work with some great architects and designers from the Chicago area.

newhouse competition prep studio

HIVE Studios with CAF

The Chicago Architecture Foundation is hosting a series of workshops call ‘Design Jams’ which are designed to solve authentic challenges using the design process.

Through hands-on activities co-led by CAF Teen design leaders and architect and design professionals, teens will learn how to think about a problem in a different way, and at a deeper level. The studio environment will facilitate collaboration and creative problem solving-skills sought after in our ever-expanding global community.

newhouse competition prep studio

Newhouse Prep Studios

The Newhouse Prep studios are designed to help Chicago Public School students prepare and enhance their projects for the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Newhouse Competition.

 

Prep studios will return in the Winter of 2013 in preparation for the May 2013 deadline of the competition.

Check back for updates or click here for more information!

REGISTER HERE TO BECOME A MENTOR

Welcome, Mentors!

There are a lot of ways to get involved in what we are doing here at CAF with our Teen programs. We are also proud to announce new benefits for our mentors! After 30 hours, a mentor will earn a one-year membership to CAF!

DiscoverDesign.org Logo

DiscoverDesign.org 

DiscoverDesign.org is a free web-based learning tool for teens.  It empowers teens to gain architectural skills, learn green design principles, engage in problem solving and connect to an online community of their peers, their teachers and design professionals around the world.

Its ideal for use in Career and Tech Ed classes and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses.  Educators in art and science also find DiscoverDesign.org to be rigorous and relevant for their cross-disciplinary project-based learning.

If you’re looking to make a true impact on the lives of teens in your community and around the world, we hope you’ll consider volunteering as an online mentor to provide feedback on the various stages of students’ design projects posted on DiscoverDesign.org.

Chicago Architecture Foundation Newhouse Architecture Program and Competition

Newhouse Jury

One of the highlights of the Newhouse Architecture Competition is the judging of student entries.  Each year, we invite 60+ leaders from the architecture, design, education, business and civic communities in Chicago to participate.

Your feedback is critical in validating instruction by teachers and projects by students within their schools. Newhouse aims to develop talent and skills that make CAF Teens important team members in the architectural community.Learn more about the Newhouse Program.

TALIESIN SCHOLAR PROGRAM

Each year, CAF offers six high school students the chance to experience a life-changing apprenticeship at Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in Spring Green, Wisconsin during their summer break. The Taliesin Scholar Program is an intensive, week-long architectural studio. This opportunity is reserved for six of the best Chicago Public School students who participate in the Newhouse Architecture Competition. This year, we are excited to pilot a new program that will take another six students to Taliesin West, in Scottsdale, Arizona. This trip will take place during the CPS Spring Break.

A Week with Frank Lloyd Wright

The Taliesin Scholar Program provides students with an incredible opportunity to hone their skills and nurture a passion for architecture in a truly unique learning environment. While at Taliesin, students spend the week designing and building a project on campus. In addition to experiencing challenging course work, the program’s participants will live with the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture apprentices in a supportive, inspiring environment and develop close relationships with faculty and mentors. At Taliesin, Scholars truly eat, sleep and breathe architecture and design.

Follow the links below to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright and his school of architecture, or email us at lstamatkin@architecture.org

DISCOVERDESIGN.ORG

As a high school student, you encounter real design challenges each day in your own school building. Tiny lockers, a crowded cafeteria or a dark library.  And while you may love to question what if, you might be unsure how to get from identifying the big problem to developing your ideas, getting feedback and finally sharing your solution.

A Free, Interactive Tool

Available free 24/7 at home, in school or from any computer with internet access, you can begin by choosing a real-world design problem posted on DiscoverDesign.org.

Throughout the various stages of the design process, you post your original photos, digital models, animations, architectural drawings, videos and text. The website serves as a safe and creative architectural town square where you can be inspired, pose questions and get feedback about your architectural design work.

A Tool for Educators

High school teachers around the country in architecture as well as interdisciplinary core subject courses also use DiscoverDesign.org as an interactive resource for project-based learning.

If you’re a teen- jump right in!  Explore the site and start a design project.  If you’re a teacher who would like to use DiscoverDesign.org with your students or if you’re a design professional who would like to volunteer with CAF as an online mentor- we’d love to hear from you.

Questions?

Contact Jen Masengarb, CAF’s Senior Manager of Educational Research, at discoverdesign@architecture.org with questions, feedback or new design project ideas.

Current Exhibitions at CAF

Chicago Architecture Foundation exhibitions encourage people to discover the spaces, places, and structures that shape Chicago and all communities. The unique installations encourage people to understand how architects, engineers, and planners design environments—and how we all participate. The exhibitions inspire people to imagine the future of metropolitan regions everywhere.

Learn more about this exhibition>>

THE UNSEEN CITY:

DESIGNS FOR A FUTURE CHICAGO

COST: Free and open to the public

HOURS: Daily 9 am to 5:30 pm

LOCATION: Atrium Gallery, 224 S. Michigan Ave.

Four Chicago academic institutions present visions for the future of city life in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s exhibition Unseen City: Designs for a Future Chicago. The participating designers encourage us to ask, “What might this neighborhood and city become?”

Come see a 19th century boulevard transformed for the 21st, a horizontal deconstructed Willis Tower, an industrial district as creative hub, and a skyscraper that scrubs the air.

What future do you imagine for your neighborhood?

  Learn more about this exhibition>> 

COST: 

Free and open to the public

HOURS: 

7 days a week from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm

LOCATION :

CAF Lecture Hall, 224 S. Michigan Ave.

Chicago is preparing to debut a bold plan for giving public transit riders a speedier and smarter way to ride: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). By combining cutting-edge technology with specially-chosen routes, BRT promises to make Chicago a more connected city.

This exhibition outlines the features and benefits of BRT while exploring how it is transforming cities around the globe. See how features like dedicated bus lanes and innovative station design are improving bus transportation and people’s lives.

These programs are made possible through the generous support of The Rockefeller Foundation, in partnership with The Chicago Community Trust.

 

Loop Value: The How Much Does It Cost? Shop

Learn more about this exhibition>>

COST: 

Free and open to the public

HOURS: 

7 days a week from 9:30 am – 5:00 pm

LOCATION:

Arcelor Mittal CitySpace Gallery, 224 South Michigan Ave.

In a nation obsessed with acquiring the most stuff at the lowest price, how well do we understand the value of the buildings and products we buy? How do our purchases impact the future of our neighborhoods? Visit Loop Value: The How Much Does It Cost? Shop at the Chicago Architecture Foundation and find a new design for your city and your life. It’s a shopping trip unlike any you’ve experienced before.

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Learn more about the Chicago model>>

COST: 

Free and open to the public

HOURS: 

7 days a week from 9am-6:30pm

LOCATION: 

Atrium Gallery, 224 South Michigan Avenue

Chicago Model City is the only accurate and up-to-date three-dimensional portrait of Chicago’s downtown. This 320-square-foot work-in-progress enables you to see Chicago as you’ve never seen it before. The model became an instant icon when it opened in 2009, beloved by tourists and locals alike. It has become the centerpiece for exhibitions in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s atrium gallery. In addition, the model is the departure point for CAF tours, a gathering place, an orientation point for visitors, and a great photo opportunity! Famous visitors to the model include Mayor Richard J. Daley, architect Jeanne Gang, and television personality Geoffrey Baer. CAF is currently developing exhibitions that will make Chicago Model City a richer and even more exciting experience.

 

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Author: Stuspots

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  • mariaishere

    My husband is an architect, need I say more. Him, I, and the girls summered there and he insisted that we take part in CAF. Well, we started out just doing to gain more of an understanding and appreciation for his passion nothing more nothing less. However, after one you want to do them all and much more. The girls took part in the youth programs and loved them all. They are really doing a great thing at CAF.

  • jenny4apenny

    OMH .. I would like so love to do the bike tour !!!

  • crazyx

    oh..wow.. i love the map it actually tells you where each tour is taking place.. very nice !!!

  • karen

    i came here a few times with my boyfriend, i must say the tour was really interesting.. i mean the explained each site very well, im definitely taking my friends here

  • john

    i came here on my family vacation to chicago, ill admit, i though this place was gunna be boring, but turned out it was really great!!, i really loved some of the exhibitions especially the one of the future chicago

  • serah

    i came here with a couple of my friends and we had the greatest time ever, the sightseeing was really amazing and unique. also i loved the map that is displayed here, because i knew hat i was going to expect 🙂