Experiencing Interior Architecture at CAF’s Open House Chicago

Between tours this past weekend, I tried my best to take advantage of Open House Chicago. The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s now-annual event, which they describe as “a free, city-wide, behind-the-scenes look at many the city’s great places and spaces.”

You may know from our Loop Interior Architecture Walking Tour that Chicago Detours loves experiencing architecture from the inside. The exterior of a building shows off the grandeur of it’s structure and it’s relationship to the city context. But when we step inside a space we truly begin to dig into what makes the experience of architecture exciting – that these spaces shape how we live and work, and how we feel and behave.

Here’s a rundown of my time with Open House Chicago via pictures in a two-part blog post.

The Old Sears Tower

Before Fazlur Kahn’s Sears Tower, the iconic Chicago department store had a 2.5 block long complex of offices and manufacturing in Homan Square. Most of the buildings are long gone, but the “original Sears Tower” remains. A glimpse of the architecture up top:

Sears Tower Homan Park ChicagoChicago Architecture Foundation Open House Chicago

Chicago Skyline View Architecture

Chicago Architecture Detours Amanda Scotese

Albany Carroll Arts Building

We also visited the open studios at the Albany Carroll Arts Building. It was so much fun to see not just the art, but the ways the studio spaces are used in different ways. This painting by Robert Sebanc is certainly memorable.

Painting Rahm Emanuel "Robert Sebanc" Chicago

Inland Steel Building

I popped into the Inland Steel Building on the way to our Historic Chicago Walking Bar Tour. Was a little bummed to not see the original interior, which is partly what was so exciting about this modernist building. Yes, it looks like the interior of a parking garage. The uninterrupted interior space of this building was revolutionary.

Chicago Architecture Inland Steel

Chicago Motor Club

Have always wanted to go inside the Motor Club Building! This Art Deco skyscraper has been looking for a buyer for years and it’s completely trapped in time. So strange to step back decades just a few blocks from Michigan Avenue. It’s the kind of period piece we love exploring on the Chicago Architecture Walking Tour for Design Lovers. The silvery draperies probably haven’t been replaced in close to a century.

Chicago Architecture Art Deco Motor ClubEverywhere I went people were snapping away at their cameras. Perhaps a photo contest next year, CAF?

Stay tuned for Part 2 – I’ve got pictures of cheesy ’80s neon lights, a movie house projection booth with cool artifacts, and a Masonic Temple turned into the La Villita Community Center.

— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

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Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
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Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

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Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
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