This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, one of the city’s most respected cultural organizations. The CAF offers more than 85 tours of significant buildings, neighborhoods and places via boat, bus, Segway, ‘L,” and, of course, foot. Over the years, people who have taken tours have walked an equivalent of 80 trips around the world or enough to walk every inch, of every Chicago street 500 times.
While the CAF engages locals and visitors on a daily basis to show off what makes our city great architecturally, we wanted to find out what CAF president and CEO Lynn Osmond personally loves about Chicago. In addition to discussing favorite restaurants, bars, museums and more below, Osmond, who lives in the West Loop, also talked about her favorite CAF tours and praised their newest exhibit, 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards in Part II of this interview.
Restaurants & Cafes
My husband is from Texas so we love Green Street Smoked Meats. It’s a cool funky place, with fabulous barbecue and meets my husband’s approval. Best brisket around.
For cool settings for breakfast, The Allis café at Soho House. What I love is the avocado smoked salmon, hard-boiled egg and fabulous toast. It’s a scrumptious breakfast. It’s very pretty. And their full English afternoon tea is just lovely.
Blackbird: The design is so beautiful and the food is great. Very elegant.
Rick Bayless’ new place, Leña Brava, just opened with wood-grilled seafood.
Bars & Taverns
RM Champagne Salon is so elegant. You go down that alley and discover this wonderful courtyard and intimate bar with great Champagne and spirits.
CH Distillery has great boozy drinks with their own alcohol. They have a great mixologist.
The Tiny Lounge: My friend Brad Lynch designed it. It’s a little treasure.
Buildings & Statutes
My very favorite is the John Hancock. It’s so handsome. It’s tall, has the cross bracing, it’s very masculine and it’s an icon on Michigan Avenue. We lived there for a while. It has everything in it. For a visitor, it has the lounge [Signature Room at the 95th] at the top. It’s even fun sitting in the plaza and looking up.
The Railway Exchange Building has a central atrium, terra cotta facade with porthole windows. The atrium has the city model in it. And it’s in this grand space.
If people want to go out to the University of Chicago campus, Robie House is an iconic Frank Lloyd Wright structure. You see his craftsmanship – Prairie Style, art glass windows, low slung house — right on the campus. It’s really where he established his style.
I love the [Jean] Dubuffet in front of the Thompson Center and the Calder in Federal Plaza. I love how people interact with them. Kids play on them and under them.