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Chicago Center for Arts and Technology(CHICAT)

Chicago, IL

adaptive reuse, historic building, Chicago, green building, building renovations, CHICAT

What was originally a hulking hardware equipment factory built in 1908 on Chicago’s Southwest Side was gutted, cleaned up, and transformed into what used to be called a “voc-tech” school. The goal of CHICAT, which opened in 2017, is to connect technology, art, and the community, and to provide job skills to low-income teens and adults. The four-story, 30,000-square-foot brick building features colorful workshops and studios where students learn everything from 3-D car design, to food safety, to video game programming. They are surrounded by a wealth of examples of sustainable materials and energy- and water-saving features.

Notable Nugget

In spring 2020, the Illinois PPE Network borrowed CHICAT’s 3D printers to create face shields for frontline hospital workers treating coronavirus patients.

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Green Upgrade Details

During the rehab, the building was upgraded top to bottom for energy efficiency. The roof now sports solar panels and a reflective coating. A new layer of insulation on both roof and walls keeps heat inside on cold winter days. Occupancy sensors cue lights to turn off when a room is vacant. The school’s low-flow kitchen and bathroom fixtures provide water efficiency as well.


The structure’s original wood ceilings and salvaged wood panels coexist with walls and floors covered with colorful, non-toxic paints. Extra-large windows, some overlooking the City skyline, add abundant daylight. The main approach to the Center is a tree-lined, trellised walkway with native landscaping, leading to a staircase and “social terrace.” At the top of the stairs is a glass-enclosed entrance and art gallery where the old loading dock once stood. There are two outdoor courtyards as well.


CHICAT was awarded LEED Gold certification.

Major Players

  • Landon Bone Baker Architects

  • Bulley & Andrews

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