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Ryan Field added to Northwestern’s sites for Open House Chicago

The free public architectural festival will take place Oct. 14 and 15

Ryan Field
Ryan Field, photo by James Steinkamp
Alice Millar Chapel
Alice Millar Chapel
Deering Library
Deering Library
Dearborn Observatory
Dearborn Observatory

EVANSTON - Northwestern University will once again open the doors of some of its prized architectural structures for Open House Chicago, a free public festival presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

On Oct. 14 and 15, the seventh annual event will offer tours of more than 200 buildings in and around Chicago, including four locations on Northwestern’s Evanston campus: Alice Millar Chapel, Dearborn Observatory, Deering Library and Ryan Field, which is a new addition to the program this year.

Northwestern’s sites received about 3,800 visits during the 2016 festival.

“Northwestern is proud to once again partner with the Chicago Architecture Foundation to open our doors at a number of our architectural gems on campus,” said Alan Anderson, executive director of neighborhood and community relations at Northwestern. “This year we are excited to add Ryan Field to this list of impressive venues here in Evanston. We hope that the thousands of guests who visit see the amazing architecture but also learn the wonderful history of Northwestern and Evanston.”

Other Evanston locations participating in Open House Chicago include Sketchbook Brewing Co., the Evanston History Center, American Toby Jug Museum and a number of significant homes and churches.

Visit Northwestern University for Open House Chicago

Alice Millar Chapel
1870 Sheridan Road
Open Saturday, Oct. 14, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Open Sunday, Oct. 15, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Built just over 50 years ago, Alice Millar Chapel is relatively young. Its design marries a simplified Neo-Gothic form with stained glass that is unabashedly Modern. The 700-seat sanctuary has little ornament to distract from the bold, colorful, abstract stained-glass windows that flood the sanctuary with an ever-changing light. The entire chancel wall is covered, floor to ceiling, in this glass—a most unusual backdrop that highlights the uniqueness of the space. The windows are the work of Belgian-born designer Benoit Gilsoul. They were fabricated by the noted Willet Studios of Philadelphia. Vail Chapel is a smaller space linked by a colonnade to the east. It is a much more traditional sanctuary with intricate representational stained glass.


Dearborn Observatory
2131 Tech Drive
Open Saturday, Oct. 14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Open Sunday, Oct. 15, from 1 to 4 p.m.

In 1889, this observatory was completed to hold what was at one time the world’s largest telescope. This original 18.5-inch telescope is still in use. In 1997, the old handcrank-operated dome was replaced with the current shiny aluminum cover with electric motor operation. In order to minimize vibrations, the core pillar on which the telescope stands is structurally isolated from the rest of the heavy stone structure below. The entire building was laboriously moved several hundred feet over a three-month period in 1939 to make way for a campus construction project.


Deering Library
1937 Sheridan Road
Open Saturday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Open Sunday, Oct. 15, from 1 to 4 p.m.

On the edge of the great lawn at the heart of Northwestern's campus rises a monumental building by the master of Collegiate Gothic architecture. Its construction was funded by the Deering and McCormick families, who founded International Harvester. The library's mass and four short corner towers allegedly prompted Frank Lloyd Wright to disparage it as "a pig on its back." But you may disagree as you ascend the stairs from the heavy stone-and-timber entry corridor to discover a stunning reading room. Enormous arched leaded-glass windows flood the double-height space with light. The windows illuminate the intricately timbered ceiling and elaborate details in carved stone and wood throughout. 


Ryan Field
1501 Central Street
Open Saturday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed Sunday, Oct. 15

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