Damen Firehouse

The finished product - home to Potbelly's Sandwiches and Joli Jolie Designs

Before construction - another Landmark wanting for attention

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1625 N. Damen, Chicago

Project Statistics

Gut renovation of a 5,000 s.f Landmark firehouse.

Existing Conditions

Since being decommissioned as a Chicago firehouse, this building had been home to several smaller businesses and organizations, the last of which was a community theater. Ironically, the building caught fire in the late 90's and had been abandoned for several years.

Design Challenge

The owner wanted to put commercial space on the first floor and residential apartments on the second floor. Getting adequate light and ventilation out of a long, narrow building with few windows on either side became a programming challenge. The Landmark status of the building also dictated strict requirements for rehabbing the building so as to capture its original feel.

Design Solution

We designed large, custom wood storefront doors to meet Landmarks approval and still make the facade of the building welcoming and open for commercial use. Their look is reminiscent of the garage doors that used to adorn the front of the building for ladder trucks to use. The dwelling units upstairs were eventually converted to office space that was more suitable to the building configuration and use patterns in the neighborhood. A sidewalk cafe makes use of the generous setback and contributes to the bustling cafe culture developing in Bucktown.