Chicago, Illinois

Morse Theatre

The Morse Theatre project featured the LEED Silver renovation and selective restoration of the c.1912 Nickelodeon, situated in the heart of Rogers Park, a vibrant neighborhood located on the far north side of Chicago near Evanston.

The Morse Theatre opened in October 2008 as a state-of-the-art, 299-seat live performance venue, booking nationally recognized jazz, folk, country, blues, and classical artists, along with top local talent, live theatre, vintage and independent cinema, and children’s and cultural programming.

Cordos began the renovation of the former Nickelodeon theatre in September 2007 with the complete demolition of the middle third of the 2-story structure down to existing footings. Cordos employed innovative site logistics planning to execute the ambitious design within extremely challenging conditions, including preserving the historic street façade and installing sheet piling to protect the remaining structure and adjacent properties to construct a new 3,000 square feet basement at 5 feet below the water table. Cordos then reconstructed the entire facility, including new interior structural and MEP systems, a new mezzanine addition, and a high-finish interior build-out of both the theatre and an acclaimed gastropub.

The Morse Theater incorporates many highly sustainable design strategies, including a radiant barrier insulation for the building envelope, rooftop solar domestic hot water system, and ultra-low flow plumbing fixtures, to name a few. To achieve LEED Silver, Cordos also employed sustainable construction techniques, including waste management and recycling, storm water management, use of recycled content and locally sourced materials, and many more.

Sensitive to the building’s historically significant role in Chicago’s rich architectural heritage, Cordos worked diligently to restore the façade, which included replacing 30-year old brick with new terra cotta and art-glass panels to match the original. Cordos also revitalized the restored façade with an illuminated marquee sign, styled to complement the historical period in which the original Morse Theatre thrived.