Chicago Filmmakers Firehouse

Chicago, IL


In 2017, Chicago Filmmakers, a nonprofit organization of independent film devotees founded in 1976, moved into their first permanent home, a former firehouse that is a Chicago landmark. Filmmakers rescued the deteriorating two-story structure, which was built in 1928 and boarded up since 2008. It's been brought up to date with an elevator. The main floor firetruck bay has been replaced by a screening room with an adjacent projection booth and library. Upstairs, in the space where firefighters used to sleep overnight, there are now offices and classrooms.

Major Players: Bureau of Architecture and Design (Bureau/AD)


Green Upgrade Details

Though rehabbed on a shoestring budget, this repurposed firehouse contains several energy and water-saving features. A layer of insulation was installed under the attic ceiling. LED lights have been placed throughout the structure, and occupancy sensors turn them off when they are not in use. The design team kept the firehouse’s many windows, allowing natural light to penetrate into the interior, and added French doors to the downstairs library, increasing the amount of daylight there.


Original brick, wood trim, and other building materials were retained wherever possible during the renovation. Gray sandstone stall dividers from the old firehouse’s bathrooms and showers have been refurbished and turned into counter tops for the new bathrooms and kitchen, which have water-conserving faucets.A City vest-pocket park planned directly to the south of the Filmmakers building should complement the "greened" firehouse.