Part 1: Open House Chicago 2014

This past weekend was one of my new favorite annual events: Open House Chicago. It’s one weekend a year where 150+ establishments open up their doors to the public for free. It’s a special event  through the Chicago Architecture Foundation. This was my third year. I went to fourteen locations over the course of two days. It was a lot of fun.

We spent Saturday going to places in our own neighborhood, the Ukrainian Village, and a few sites in or near Goose Island. We started off with St. Volodymyr  Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral. It was formerly a Lutheran Gothic Church turned into an Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral. It’s less ornate than St. Nicholas or St. Volodymyr Catholic Church but it was still lovely. It had wonderful golden iconostasis with colorful icons along the sanctuary. The stained glass windows probably date to time of the Lutheran Church. There was one window that seemed to have a Masonic symbol of the pyramid eye. Very cool.
St. Vol
Next, we stopped by St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral. This is one of my favorite churches in Chicago. It’s an impressive structure with thirteen domes, one to represent Jesus and twelve for his disciples. I’ve written a series of three articles here. Inside, it is a massive space that can hold 1000 people with beautiful golden dome and walls. The icons and stained glass are a celebration of color. It’s a real treasure and central to the life of Ukrainian Village. When we lived closer to the cathedral, we happened upon wonderful processions for religious and secular purposes.
St. Nicholas
Then we headed to the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral. The building was actually designed by Louis Sullivan. While it certainly shares a lot with both Ukrainian churches, it had its own distinct feel. It was a smaller space by far with less natural light but it makes it more intimate. We even got to peak into the area behind the iconostasis to see where the priest gets ready for services.
Holy Trinity
Then we took a detour out of Ukrainian Village to head to Goose Island. Our first stop was the Chicago Scenic Design. It’s a company that designs stages for theaters, corporate events, and much more. We got a tour of its manufacturing space and saw its many stations for wood and metal cutting, painting, electrical wiring, and more. If you live in Chicago, you’ve seen something they’ve designed. I know they’ve definitely added the Coke bottles to bus stops around town this summer but I think they said that they assemble the bus stops as well. We saw a giant milk bone that they had made for a trade show. Very interesting.
Then we went to Groupon Headquarters. This was a bit disappointing. This was the first site I had been to where there was a wait, even with a priority pass. I’ll talk about priority passes later. Once we got inside, we had a full tour showing the open floor plan (no cubicles). I was really excited to see the Enchanted Forest but I was disappointed that it had a lot more plastic boulders than fake trees. Boo. There was a swing set area but the seats were chained down so you could only really rock on them. So alas. It was interesting to see the Headquarters with its giant spaceship cat.
Groupon Swings
 Our last stop for the day was St. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church. This was one of the sites that I was most excited to check out. I had passed by the church 100s of times but had never had the opportunity to go in. It was well worth the wait. While not as large as St. Nicholas, it’s a beautiful colorful and golden space. The iconostasis was carved from wood with a vineyard theme. Absolutely stunning space.
St. Volodymyr Catholic Church
That’s all for now. Next I’ll talk about day 2 of the Architectural Adventures!
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