1328 W. Morse, Chicago Map
1328 Morse LLC
Greene & Proppe Design
The Morse Theater is a renovation of a nearly-abandoned 1912 Nickelodeon theater building into a 299-seat music venue and a 99-seat restaurant (The Century Public House). The renovation includes all-new interior structure and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, including addition of a mezzanine bringing the total building area to 18,000 sf. The building has been through a variety of uses and hard times, so it's encouraging to see a local owner take interest in this type of rehab and make it green as well. Renovation projects are notoriously complex and expensive, and this project is no exception - it even includes a difficult expansion of the existing basement.
The greenest part of the project is certainly the building reuse - although the interior is almost entirely new, the existing exterior walls are preserved. The original terra-cotta detail on the front facade is being restored and recreated - the lower half was 're-muddled' in the 1970's (as the architect puts it). The location is also inherently green - only one building away from the Morse red line CTA station.
Energy conservation measures appear to have been careful evaluated to use the most effective but reasonable-cost solutions. Many commercial rehab projects neglect the existing building envelope, but here twice the code-required insulation is being installed. LED lights are likely to be used for much of the stage lighting, a notorious energy hog in theaters (all that heat you feel on stage is wasted energy!). Energy recovery ventilators are becoming fairly common green projects, but here its inclusion is more beneficial than normal because in the winter it can recover the waste heat that does come off of the stage lighting. Similarly, demand-controlled ventilation is practically de rigueur in green buildings, but here it has its greatest benefit, because the theater has periods of very low occupancy when HVAC systems still need to run, but ventilation may be reduced to a minimum.
The project also includes a small area of green roof, highly reflective roofing for the balance of the roof, and most of the usual preferred green materials. The theater is scheduled to open in spring of 2008. Other project team members include general contractor Cordos Development and Associates, MEP engineer McGuire Engineers, structural engineer Perry & Associates, and specialty consultants Greenmaker Supply (green), TC Furlong (sound/theater), Lightswitch (lighting), Talaske (acoustics), and Edward Don & Company (kitchen).