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Chicago Firehouses at Forefront of Green

Old firehouses in Chicago and surrounding suburbs are doubling as art centers, museums, restaurants, and wedding venues. In Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood, for example, the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance transformed a 1901 fire station, abandoned since 1982, into a community gathering place with a host of green features. During the renovation of the two-story cultural center (completed in 2012), the building was insulated and a highly efficient HVAC system was installed. On the main floor, where horse-drawn fire trucks used to be kept, visitors are now greeted by a bright, airy meeting room and gallery lit by energy-saving light fixtures. Walls throughout are coated with colorful yet nontoxic paint. The bathrooms sport water-conserving faucets, and outside, the patio’s permeable pavement keeps stormwater from flowing off site. The building is topped by a green roof.

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