AdrianSmithGordonGillChicago history and architecture enthusiasts are looking forward to the weekend of October 15 and 16 when the Chicago Architecture Foundation hosts openhousechicago 2011 (OHC), a FREE public event that gets you behind-the-scenes of many of the city’s greatest spaces and places and illuminates areas that are normally open “by invitation only”.

To make the most of the weekend, spend some time on the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s website where you will not only get to see the buildings and spaces available to visit but to also create a customized, individualized program using its on-line guide to select what you want. Entry to the individual sites is on a first-come first-served basis and preference is given to CAF members and OHC 2011 volunteers so if you have your heart set on seeing a particular place, get in line early because it’s going to be a busy weekend!

And, since Chicago is naturally a friendly city to use public transportation, many of these spots are easily accessible using trains, buses, bicycles or car. Many sites are located in clusters, too, making it even easier to visit by foot. And, I recently learned of a new water bottle that is great for these outdoor treks called the Vapur so I’ll be packing one of these with me when we run around town. I love that I can fold it once I’m done drinking so I’m not stuck carrying around an empty water bottle.

So back on track – among the gems you’ll enjoy seeing is Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture’s offices at 111 W. Monroe. The firm is well-known in Chicago for its stunning work including residential, commercial, cultural buildings to mixed-use super-tall towers. The firm’s offices are located on the 23rd floor of the Harris Bank building and features two outdoor terraces and unique views of Chase Tower, Willis Tower, Inland Steel and other landmarks.

Megy Karydes is founder and owner of World Shoppe , a fair trade importing business working directly with artisans in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda. For regular updates, visit her Facebook page