Illinois Institute of Technology

University in Hyde Park & South Side

Famed mid-century architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed many of the campus' modern buildings. Stop in at the Collens Welcome Center (at the northwest entrance of the McCormick Tribune Campus Center) to rent a 90-minute audio tour ($10) for DIY explorations. They're available from 11am to 3pm. Sometimes guided tours (same price) are also available; check the website.

A world-class leader in technology, industrial design and architecture, the IIT owes much of its look to Mies, who fled the Nazis in Germany for Chicago in 1938. From 1940 until his retirement in 1958, Mies designed 22 IIT buildings that reflected his tenets of architecture, combining simple, black-metal frames with glass and brick infills. SR Crown Hall is the rock star.

Mies isn’t the only architectural hero whose works are on display here. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas designed the 2003 McCormick Tribune Campus Center with its simple lines and striking en-tubing of the El tracks that run overhead. Helmut Jahn designed the funky State Street Village residence halls.