Open House Chicago is this weekend, October 18 and 19, when 150 of the city's architectural gems—both new and old, well-known and obscure, public year-round and off-limits but for now—open their doors to enthusiasts of the built environment, free of charge. Last year's event built on 2012's, the second go-around for this increasingly popular festival of architecture that highlights places and spaces all over the city. Organized by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and sponsored by Kemper, Art Works, ComEd, and CTA, the event generally runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. But hours vary by location, so check beforehand. As always, the sites on display span a wide variety of neighborhoods and building types, from architects' offices to historical relics. A few of the 18 neighborhoods represented are new this year—Ukrainian Village, Edgewater, Goose Island, Bronzeville, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood have all joined the party. If you go, Tweet and Instagram @archpaper with your photos, using the hashtag #OHC2014. Check out a full list of sites at openhousechicago.org.
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In a few short years, the term placemaking has migrated from wonky urban planning circles to neighborhoods across the country—that communities come together around public space is no groundbreaking observation, but when successful the idea can be revolutionary on a local scale. So hopes Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council, who this weekend will sponsor “Old Place New Tricks,” a bid to “activate” neighborhoods from Englewood to Ravenswood with public space interventions that range from a “healthy eating happy hour” to “Selfie Sunday.” In all 18 events will rally neighborhoods across the city (and in the suburb of Blue Island), starting today and running through Sunday. MPC put together a map of them, which you can explore here. “Placemaking gives people the power to transform their neighborhoods, one space at a time,” said MPC’s Kara Riggio in a statement. “We at MPC hope this challenge provides communities an opportunity to tackle those vacant or underused spaces they've been eyeing for a while. Most of all, though, we hope it's a chance for people to get together with friends and neighbors for a great summer event!” No one’s under the illusion that pop-up art installations and weekend get-togethers can untangle the mess of problems plaguing many Chicago neighborhoods, but there’s hope that a community event focused on violence prevention in Austin, for example, or a peace-themed conference in Englewood may constitute a good start.