Chicago Architecture Foundation

CAF Logo.jpg
224 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL, United States

Chicago Architecture Foundation Exhibitions

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.

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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

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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!

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p style=”text-align: center;”>Chicago Architecture Foundation Exhibitions

Current Exhibitions Available by CFA

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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Additional Information

Looking for ways to use architecture to enrich your K – 8 core subjects?

You and your students will never look at buildings the same way again!

Schoolyards to Skylines is a resource book of 47 lessons for teachers in Kindergarten – 8th grade. The 500-page book uses both famous and lesser-known buildings, sites, people, and events in Chicago as tools for teaching units in social sciences, science, mathematics, language arts, and fine/ visual arts. Each lesson strengthens the fundamental educational skills of students and is solidly based on state learning standards.

Whether you live and teach within the city of Chicago, in a nearby suburb, or elsewhere in the US, Schoolyards to Skylines will become an indispensable resource. Today, over 1700 copies of Schoolyards to Skylines are used by teachers, parents, and architects in 41 states and 16 foreign countries.

Location Images
Admisson and Location Hours

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.

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