Lynn Osmond / Courtesy Chicago Architecture Foundation
Reliance Building / Courtesy J. Crocker/Wikipedia
Elks National Veteran Memorial / Courtesy Wikipedia
Chicago Chinatown / Courtesy Lordcolous via Wikipedia
Lynn Osmond has been the president and CEO of the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) since 1996. She oversees the organization’s comprehensive program of tours, exhibitions, lectures, special events, and youth education activities, all designed to enhance the public’s awareness and appreciation of Chicago’s outstanding architectural legacy.
In 2005, Ms. Osmond was recognized as an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects. In 2002 she was awarded the Paul Berger Arts Entrepreneurship Award presented by Columbia College, and in 2009 she received the Chicago Woman Achievement Award from the Chicago Alliance for Women.
Best Historic Architecture
The Monadnock Building captures a moment in time when architects and engineers were shifting from load-bearing buildings to skeleton-framed skyscrapers. One half of this building is load-bearing, while the other half is skeleton-framed.
The Reliance Building represents a coming together of technologies that were important at the turn of the 20th century—plate glass, terracotta, steel frames, and elevators.
Frank Lloyd Wright developed a truly unique style of American architecture and the Robie House shows his theories in a stunning example of craftsmanship, design, and materials.
Best Off-the-Beaten Path Architecture
The Elks National Veteran Memorial is often described as one of the most magnificent war memorials in the world because of its monumental architecture, priceless art, and stunning interior. The rotunda and reception hall are gorgeous and recently went through a lengthy renovation.
The Unity Temple in Oak Park is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s earliest explorations in poured concrete. Unity Temple sometimes gets overlooked in Oak Park because people go straight to Wright’s home and studio. This is a great example of one of Wright’s design techniques in which he explores architectural volumes and pathways through a building.
Palmisano Park in Bridgeport is a beautifully reclaimed quarry near the old meatpacking district of Chicago. Now, you can explore native wildlife while enjoying fantastic views of the city.
I call the West Loop home. I enjoy its mix of historic loft buildings, up-and-coming restaurants, reclaimed urban park spaces, and its adjacency to the Loop.
Wicker Park is one of the trendiest areas in Chicago right now. This old German and Polish neighborhood contains an amazing stock of historic homes from the late 19th century that are being reclaimed by a new generation. It is now vibrant with restaurants and shopping.
Chinatown is filled with terrific food, shopping, and culture. Due to its proximity to the Chicago River, it contains a beautiful linear park in the shadow of giant removable bridges.
Pilsen, an old Czech neighborhood with densely built brick row houses and cottages, is now home to a large Mexican population. Elote carts line the streets, the smells of authentic Mexican food fill the air, and there is a truly unique collection of murals throughout the neighborhood.
Green Street Meats offers the best barbecue cuisine that I’ve ever found. I would beg Austin, Texas to compete! It’s located near our home at Green Street and Randolph.
RM Champagne Bar has one of those charming alley entrances and offers an atmosphere of simple elegance. The drinks are outstanding, as is the lovely, limited-buy menu.
Chef Rick Bayless is the best for first-rate and very unique Mexican cuisine; quite possibly the best in the country. Whether it be the formal Topolobampo or the casual Frontera Grill, the food and margaritas are incredible!
Blackbird is another elegant favorite. The menu is interesting and the restaurant has surroundings that are exquisite and understated. It’s similar to Avec, which doesn't take reservations, and has the same owners and standards of excellence.