The Chicago Architecture Center announced this year’s sites for its annual Open House Chicago festival, and two iconic Loyola buildings — the Loyola Information Commons (IC) and Piper Hall — are on the list.
Open House Chicago (OHC) is a free city-wide festival that allows the public to step into an array of buildings throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods for one weekend each fall, according to its website. Buildings on OHC’s list range from historic buildings to community favorites including Edgewater Beach Apartments, the Chicago Board of Trade Building and Holy Name Cathedral, according to the list.
The IC, a student workspace, and Piper Hall, which holds the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) and Gannon Center for Women and Leadership, are among more than 200 buildings expected to be open to the public Oct. 13 to 14, according to the OHC website. Piper Hall will be open Oct. 13 and the IC will be open both days, according to the list.
Both sites were previously featured in OHC, Eric Rogers, manager of Community Outreach and OHC said.
Piper Hall was last showcased in 2014 and attracted around 800 visitors, Rogers said. The IC was included during OHC’s first two years — in 2011 and 2012 — and brought in a couple hundred visitors both years, Rogers said.
Downtown Chicago had more than 100,000 site visits in 2017 while other neighborhoods such as Uptown had about 5,000 site visits, according to OHC’s 2017 report. Rogers Park wasn’t featured at last year’s OHC, but in 2016 it garnered about 4,000 site visits, Rogers said.
The IC is a workspace for students and guests along the lakefront. It sits between Cudahy Library and Madonna della Strada Chapel. Rogers said its transparent glass facade and connection between the chapel and library make it stand out.
Loyola students frequent the IC to study and work on homework. However, Director of the Loyola IC Paul Voelker said he doesn’t anticipate OHC visitors to disrupt students because they’ll come in during the two days, not just all at once.
“Compared to other events at Loyola like Family Weekend … it’s not really the same kind of crush of people at one time,” he said.
Visitors will be able to see the IC and the Donovan Reading Room in Cudahy Library, and volunteers from Loyola and OHC will help direct people, Voelker said.
Piper Hall houses Loyola’s WLA and was previously a residential building when it was built in 1909, according to Nancy Freeman, director of the WLA. It’s one of the few remaining lake house mansions in Chicago; many of them were torn down to accommodate high-rises during the 1960s and 1970s, Freeman said.
The WLA preserves documents and records of womens’ organizations and women leaders, according to its website.
Loyola isn’t the only university participating in OHC. The festival’s site list includes buildings at DePaul University, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago. Rogers said he thinks university buildings were valuable additions to the OHC site list because they’re staples in their communities.
“Universities are usually the anchor institutions in the communities where they’re located,” he said. “They’re the most important players. So, to my mind, it makes no sense to showcase Rogers Park without having Loyola in the same way it makes no sense to showcase Evanston without Northwestern or Hyde Park without University of Chicago.”
Loyola senior Amela Kalezic said she interned at the WLA and likes Piper Hall’s exterior design. She said she thought the building offered historical value.
“Everything in Loyola is very modern and built recently, but [Piper Hall] offers you a glimpse into the history of Loyola,“ the 21-year-old environmental studies and history double major said.
Nadya Lloyd, 19, said she likes the view the IC has to offer and said she thinks members of the public would enjoy visiting it. The IC is also open to community members outside of Loyola for most of the year, its website said.
“I think it’s a good place for [the public] … the environment is really good,” the sophomore computer science major said. “The view is perfect, and it’s probably the best library in the city.”