Optimo Hats

Chicago, IL


A former firehouse that is a Chicago landmark, this two-story structure was built in 1915. In 2008, members of Engine Company 121 moved next door to a new larger fire station.  Soon after, Optimo Hats, a manufacturer of luxury, tailor-made men’s hats, moved their headquarters into the old firehouse. The main floor fire truck bay was replaced by a production room where hats are lovingly assembled. Upstairs, in the space where firefighters used to sleep overnight, was turned into Optimo's corporate office, design studio, display room, and kitchen.


Completed in 2016, the firehouse-to-factory transition was a wholesale makeover, done with an eye toward saving both energy and water.

Major Players: SOM, dbHMS


Green Upgrade Details

The old firehouse's windows were unboarded, allowing abundant daylight into the high-ceilinged main assembly room, and LED task lamps were installed to supplement the natural light. Optimo's floors were upgraded with radiant heat systems, the bathrooms were outfitted with low-flow fixtures, and the kitchen was finished with marble reclaimed from the firehouse. The structure was awarded LEED Silver certification.