Gordon Gill is a founding partner of award-winning Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. Gill’s work includes high-performing skyscrapers, cultural centers, and museums, as well as strategic carbon planning and urban master plans across the globe. In 2009 he was selected as Chicago’s best emerging architect by the Chicago Reader and in 2013 Gill was elected to the College of Fellows at the American Institute of Architects.
Best Historic Architecture
There are architecture tours held in Chicago through the Chicago Architecture Foundation and in Oak Park through the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust that are excellent. The CAF’s River Cruise is a must for newcomers to the city because it gives you a great overview of the downtown loop buildings.
Best Off-the-Beaten Path Architecture
Harry Weese designed several cottages on the north branch of the Chicago River that are interesting. Tadao Ando’s Eychaner/Lee House, on Wrightwood in Lincoln Park, is one of my favorites.
Best Museums and Galleries
Art Institute, Museum of Contemporary Art, Field Museum, and the Museum of Science and Industry are world-class. If you want a more cutting-edge experience, try Spertus, Richard Gray Gallery, or one of the many galleries on Franklin Street.
When you have winters like we do in Chicago, once the weather lifts, you want to be outside. To eat and drink in the outdoors, I recommend The Terrace at Trump, which has a great view of the river or Terzo Piano at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute.
The IIT campus has Mies van der Rohe, Rem Koolhaas, and Helmut Jahn architecture to enjoy; Wrigley Field is always fun; the Farnsworth House, another Mies van der Rohe building (near Plano, Illinois), is worth the trip. For something a bit farther out, head to Columbus, Indiana, for proof that high design can be found anywhere, if you know where to look.
For the full Chicago experience you should find inspiration at the Merchandise Mart, take a tour of the 1871 incubator space to see some startups in action, hit the beaches or take a boat cruise on Lake Michigan. Don’t forget to take in a concert at Millennium Park.