The Reader's Choice: Chicago Cultural Center
Any selection in this category will be arbitrary, but the Chicago Cultural Center recently tipped the scales for me by releasing its crowning glory, the world's largest Tiffany dome, from 70 years of encasement in concrete and copper. This 1,000-square-foot rooftop masterpiece again has sun streaming through its 30,000 cut-glass "fish scales" to light up the jeweled mosaics and white Carrara marble lining Preston Bradley Hall—just as it did when the building opened in 1897. Inspired by the White City at the 1893 World's Fair and designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, who also did the Art Institute, the Cultural Center is a people's palace with a split personality reflecting its original functions: public library on the south side and Civil War museum on the north. Besides the Tiffany (and an exquisite smaller sibling on the opposite side of the building), mind the ceilings and staircases—this is late 19th century decorative art at its most sumptuous. Mon-Thu 8 AM-7 PM, Fri 8 AM-6 PM, Sat 9 AM-6 PM, Sun 10 AM-6 PM, 78 E. Washington, 312-744-6630, chicagoculturalcenter.org. —Deanna Isaacs
- Michael Beasley
- Best Building to Show Out of Town Guests: Chicago Cultural Center
&Our readers' choice: John Hancock Center
Observatory open Mon-Sun 9 AM-11 PM, 875 N. Michigan, 1-888-875-8439, hancock-observatory.com, $9-$25, kids under 4 free.