Enjoy a remarkable introduction to Chicago’s iconic architecture
Well-paced exploration of the revitalised Art Institute
Group to be guided by a panel of Chicago’s best architectural historians & museum experts
Hotel is a Burnham-designed landmark located in ‘The Loop’ central area
Marvellous music during our stay
Chicago stands at the crossroads of America, fusing the energy of big city ambition with the spirit of a midwest town. From its foundation in 1833 the city quickly became a formidable engine, powering US economic expansion westwards. The great Chicago fire of 1871 proved to be a catalyst as when the city rose again, it came to define American urban architecture. Visionary industrialists transformed the dreams of a pantheon of ingenious architects, their materials brick, concrete, glass and steel. A sophisticated approach to architectural design, supported through structural innovation, became in effect ‘The Chicago School of Architecture’. Le Baron Jenney, Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe were the men who built Chicago, and we shall admire their work throughout our visit. Indeed, their vision lives on today, via the striking contemporary architecture which we shall also encounter.
While Chicago developed into a manufacturing powerhouse, a transportation hub, a place of grain and livestock, it also became a place of learning and culture. The city’s Art Institute has long reflected the collective desires of industrialists and family dynasties to collect and exhibit art. Today the Institute’s new Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing allows this venerable institution to re-present its considerable collections across many genres, whilst its old gallery spaces have been simultaneously transformed. We shall explore some of its individual collections whilst also allowing ample time to explore the collections privately. Similar opportunities to explore the city at leisure will also be available.
The tour will be led by John Burns and supported by James Hill. John is an architectural historian and native Chicagoan. He also acts as a resident guide at the Chicago Architectural Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust. James has worked with Ciceroni for over fifteen years managing all our Italian and U.S. tours. Finally, the knowledge of resident art historians and docents at The Art Institute will enliven our guided visits of its collections.
We stay at the 4* Alise (formerly the Burnham) Hotel. Designed by the renowned architect, Daniel Burnham, this iconic landmark of ‘The Chicago School’ is one of the first glass and steel skyscrapers built in the city. It is superbly located in the heart of Chicago, within ‘The Loop’ area, from where most of the architecture we shall encounter, in addition to the Art Institute and the Symphony Centre, can all be reached easily on foot. There are many local restaurants to hand and the ‘Magnificent Mile’ is a comfortable walk away, just beyond the Chicago River, with many retail temptations to hand.
Day by day
- Day 1: Tuesday 11 June
- We fly from London Heathrow with BA to Chicago O’Hare airport, arriving mid-afternoon. We travel by coach into the city centre where there will be an early group dinner in the hotel. Wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Wednesday 12 June
- We begin our architectural theme with The Chicago School of Architecture and a showcase of early steel-framed buildings, many of them designed by the great firm of architects, Burnham and Root in the aftermath of the Great Fire of Chicago of 1871. After some free time for lunch, not included, we visit The Chicago Cultural Centre to admire its spectacular Tiffany glass dome. We end the day with a Chicago River Cruise continuing our exploration of the city’s architecture. The evening will be free.
- Day 3: Thursday 13 June
- Today is dedicated to America’s most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Our coach journey will take us 10 miles west of the city centre to Oak Park. After a pleasant stroll around this leafy suburb we visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio – our first introduction to his famous ‘Prairie Style’. We remain in Oak Park for an early group lunch after which we continue to his remarkable Unity Church. South of the city we visit privately his most accomplished Prairie Style house – the Robie House, where we shall also have a drinks reception. On return to our hotel, the evening will be free.
- Day 4: Friday 14 June
- We return to the architecture of Chicago with a second guided walk of the city: Modern, Post-Modern and Contemporary Modern skyscrapers will be our focus. Our morning will end at Millennium Park – a testament to the city’s renewal since 2000. After lunch, not included, the remainder of the afternoon and evening will be free for private explorations. You may wish to explore elements of the Arts Institute collections which will not be a formal part of tomorrow’s programme, or alternatively enjoy the many retail temptations along the city’s main shopping thoroughfare, the ‘Magnificent Mile’.
- Day 5: Saturday 15 June
- We walk the short distance to The Art Institute for a full day of formal visits to this iconic American institution. We have two guided visits this morning beginning with the collection of European Old Masters, and after a coffee break, the institute’s formidable holdings of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. Following lunch on site (not included) we have a formal visit to the institute’s holdings of American and Modern American art. There will be free time in the afternoon to explore the institute at leisure. Later in the evening we meet for our final group dinner.
- Days 6 & 7: Sunday 16 & Monday 17 June
- This morning we visit the Richard H. Driehaus Museum. This is the magnificent nineteenth century home of a prominent banker, reflecting the lifestyle of Chicago’s ‘Gilded Age’. We then drive westwards out of Chicago for our final lunch at Plano. We then visit the Farnsworth House, Mies van der Rohe’s one room weekend retreat, and a masterpiece of the International Style of Architecture. We transfer to Chicago O’Hare airport and our flight home. We arrive at London’s Heathrow on Monday morning.
Music in Chicago
Chicago is the home of the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Riccardo Muti conducts the CSO in Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” and Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 3 on June 13th and 14th. Tickets for this and other events can be booked on your behalf on a request basis, subject to availability
- Price: £3,335 per person
- Price without flights: £3,335
- Deposit: £475
- Single Supplement: £495 (Double Room for Sole Use)
- Tour Manager: James Hill
5 nights with breakfast 4* Hotel Alise (formerly Burnham), at West Washington St & State Street
Outward: BA295 Depart London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1030 Arrive Chicago O’Hare 1310
Return: BA296 Depart Chicago O’Hare 2055 Arrive London Heathrow (Terminal 5) 1040 (landing Monday 17 June)
2 dinners & 2 lunches with water, wine & coffee, all local transfers, entry fees & gratuities
Travel to/from Heathrow, 3 dinners & 3 lunches
Weather Conditions for Chicago in June are:
Average Temperature between: 17oC - 25oC / 62oF - 77oF
Rainfall: 177mm / 7 inches
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.