Fans of great architecture love to take guided or self-guided tours to learn more about the buildings or homes designed by classic architects like Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis Sullivan. Guided tours are usually somewhat expensive and subject to the knowledge and whims of the tour guide, while self-guided tours can force architecture buffs to juggle books, maps, and MP3 players while searching for the details of a particular architect or style.
These frustrations were the impetus behind the creation of the FanGuide Tour & Audio Companion iPhone apps by Prairie Design Group. I recently had an opportunity to test the Chicago Loop Architecture Guide [US$2.99, iTunes Link], and wish that this app had been available a few years back when I was visiting the Windy City.
Featuring an elegant and easy-navigated user interface, the Chicago Loop Architecture Guide provides six tours, each with anywhere from 5 to 9 stops. The tours range in length from 30 minutes to a full hour, and stops for food, coffee, or photography can stretch out the time. Tapping on a globe icon during a tour provides a Google map view of a stop, overlaid with a photo of the building and arrows that point you to the previous or next stop. You don't need a cellular connection to use the app; there are also self-contained offline maps that are more than sufficient to provide you with location information.