Welcome to Open Architecture Chicago! Our mission is to work with communities to create sustainable, innovative, and socially responsive design. For more additional information and to get involved, be sure to check out our local web page here and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

We are a collaborative group of volunteer design professionals and students dedicated to the pursuit of advocacy and social change through the built environment in and beyond Chicago.

Founded in December 2007, we provide socially responsible design for Chicago communities. We serve where resources and design experience are scarce. We believe the design matters, people matter and everyone benefits from good design.

“The skill and passion of Chicago’s architectural community is profound, but equally as profound are the challenges facing the communities who could use our design skills most.” -Betsy Williams, AIA

  • 883 Volunteer Members
  • 1,200,000 Value of Services Provided to Date

Rebuilding Chicago

2016 will mark another year in our continueing partnership with Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago. Join Open Architecture Chicago to help rebuild homes in the Chicagoland area.

“In the spirit of volunteerism and community partnership, Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago improves the homes and neighborhoods of elderly, disabled and low-income residents so that they may continue to live in warmth, safety and comfort. -Mission Statement, Rebuilding Together” – Metro Chicago

  • 4/30/2016 National Rebuilding Day
  • 15 Members in our Team
  • 1,500 Homes Repaired and Renovated
Rebuilding Together Website

Art Center

In the spring of 2013, Charlie Branda partnered with the Near North Unity Program and the Chicago Chapter to realize her vision of a non-profit storefront arts center, providing sliding scale classes for children and adults in the near north side. Housed in the vacant storefronts at 1402 and 1408 North Sedgwick. The art center would enliven the Sedgwick corridor and provide a creative and open environment for interaction between neighbors.

“Our neighborhood art center will be an attractive, inviting, community oriented, self-sustaining art and activity center. We’ll use our resources and imagination to create a space that feels inviting and safe.” – Unknown

  • Project Completed February 2014
  • 346 Volunteer Hours
  • 3 Initial Courses Offered
Art on Sedgwick Website

Saving Homes

In 2013 CHA sought funding to demolish over 600 homes in Altgeld Gardens on Chicago’s south side. With our community partners, Open Architecture Chicago authored a plan to save 97% of the units. Now we are building on that win, to make a case for reinvestment in the region.

“Our partnership with Architecture for Humanity Chicago (now OAChicago) is helping to bring voice and shape to our aspirations for a healthy, livable, vibrant community for generations to come” -Cheryl Johnson – People for Community Recovery

  • Ongoing Project
  • 195 Volunteer Hours
  • 97% of Homes Saved
People for Community Recovery Website

Constructing a Secondary School

In July 2011, the Chicago Chapter partnered with Tanzania Development Support and UMABU to design and construct new facilities at a secondary school in Nyegina, Tanzania. 

Since that time our volunteers have completed a master plan for the campus and assisted in the realization of the library and community resource center. Our volunteers have joined members of Tanzania Development Support on multiple site and construction visits.

“Tanzania Development Support’s mission is to improve the quality of life of youth, especially girls, in the Mara region by supporting primary and secondary school improvements and other community-identified priorities. We will partner with indigenous organizations in Mara, and other supporting organizations, to achieve our objectives.” -Mission Statement, Tanzania Development Support

  • Ongoing 
  • 67,144 Volunteer Airline Miles
  • 1,000,000Residents in the catchment region of the Library and resource center
Tanzania Development Support Website

Restoring Food

In 2011, the Chicago Chapter partnered with Food Desert Action to realize and dynamic new concept to restore urban food access to low income communities by creating a mobile fresh fruit and produce store, built in a retrofitted city bus.

“At some point, telling people ‘I want a bus to go sell people fruits and vegetables’ sounds like the craziest thing you’ve ever heard, but not when you have a design” -Steven Casey, Fresh Moves Co-founder

  • Completed September 2012
  • 45 Seats Per Bus
  • 13 Weekly Market Stops
Growing Power Website