Lynn Osmond assumed the position of President and CEO of the Chicago Architecture Foundation in 1996. She led the creation and introduction in 2018 of the Chicago Architecture Center, a 20,000-square-foot home that moves Chicago architecture to the center of the city’s cultural conversation. Opening this new home included rebranding the organization as the CAC.
Osmond is responsible for overseeing the CAC’s comprehensive slate of architecture tours, exhibitions, discussions, lectures, education programs and more. Under Osmond’s leadership, the CAC has realized 400 percent growth in revenue and is consistently ranked among Chicago’s top ten cultural institutions. Today, it serves more than 680,000 people each year.
During Osmond’s tenure, the CAC has expanded its docent tour program to include 450 volunteers, giving 85 unique tours totaling more than 7,000 departures annually. CAC tours are recognized internationally among the leading programs of their kind. Osmond also initiated Open House Chicago, a free and citywide architecture festival attracting more than 100,000 people annually and celebrating ten years in 2020, and spearheaded the launch of the Association of Architecture Organizations (AAO), connecting 160 members worldwide.
The CAC’s August 2018 opening included the inauguration of multiple exhibits. The Chicago Gallery tells how it became the “first city of modern architecture” and is built around the Chicago City Model Experience, significantly expanded in its new location and brought to life through video, projection mapping and interactive kiosks. In the Drake Family Skyscraper Gallery, “Building Tall” features supersized models of towers located in Chicago and around the world, helping visitors discover the innovations that enable architects to build ever higher. Additional temporary exhibitions enliven and refresh the CAC’s galleries throughout the year.
The CAC reached more than 20,900 youth in 2019 through its education programs. CAC education initiatives include three curricular resources for K–12 teachers and students—Schoolyards to Skylines(K–8), The Architecture Handbook (high school) and DiscoverDesign.org, a digital learning program—all of which have been recognized with AIA Honor Awards and implemented by educators throughout the country.
In recognition of its 50th anniversary and Meet Your City initiative, the CAC received the 2017 John Baird Award for Stewardship from the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. The American Architectural Foundation presented CAC with its 2014 Keystone Award, which honors individuals and organizations outside the field of architecture for exemplary leadership increasing the value of architecture and design in our culture. In 2014, Osmond was named a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council and in 2005 became an Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects. In 2002, she was awarded the Paul Berger Arts Entrepreneurship Award presented by Columbia College Chicago, in 2009 she received the Chicago Woman Achievement Award from Chicago Real Estate Women (CREW) and, in 2020, she is one of 25 C-level and senior executives selected for the second Daniel Burnham Fellowship cohort by Leadership Greater Chicago.
Since opening its doors to the public, the CAC has received the 2019 “Business Impact of the Year” award from The Magnificent Mile Association and the 2018 “Best New Attraction” award from Friends of Downtown, while Osmond was awarded the 2018 AIA Illinois Richard Nickel Award for (non-architect) citizens who lift up architecture and the profession.
Osmond serves on the boards of Choose Chicago (Vice Chair), the Magnificent Mile and the International Women’s Forum (Vice Chair). She is founding chair of the Association of Architecture Organizations, a commissioner of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, and a member of the Commercial Club, the Chicago Network, and the Economic Club of Chicago, among others. Osmond holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Queens University in Ontario, Canada. She is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and a graduate of the Advanced Executive Program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Image Credits: Alpheus Media