Jordano Photography Studio is now Complete


Today we bring you … photos of a photography studio.  With this project, we gave a shadowy auto shop a new lease on life as a bright, light-filled Dave Jordano Photography studio.  We’re so pleased with the way this project has turned out.  Take a spin through the space in photos and read a little about the design and construction process.  

The finished building has a facade updated with simple but striking corten metal panels, interior parking space for two cars at the front, a tidy bathroom and kitchen area, a live/work hang out space at the rear that opens onto a private alley-side patio, and a spacious photo storage and work space in the new loft above.

From the dark, cavernous open space we started out with, we’ve carved out a generous multi-use space at the back of the building and flooded it with light from new windows on two levels.  The photos below show the kitchen and storage walls, as well as a glimpse of the open loft work-space up above.  We cleaned and preserved the brick walls – classic Chicago common – as well as the exposed wood rafters and concrete floors.  The resulting space is bright, functional and inviting.

image 01

Image 05a


New windows look out onto the triangular rear patio.  A tall privacy fence of corten steel shields the outdoor space from the alley  but doesn’t obscure the classic Chicago “Speed Hump sign, visible just just over its top.

Image 02

uptown photography studio

We decided to leave the stained and painted bricks at the back wall to show the roofline of the old structure.  Part of the fun of working with existing buildings is letting them tell their own story rather than beginning from a clean slate with each remodel.

We borrowed light from the roof level for the bathroom tucked in behind the kitchen on the ground floor.  A tall “light well” opening extends up through the loft behind the kitchen wall and scoops light down to the white tiled bathroom, flooding with with light.

sketch of light wellimage 3_7

The lofted second floor extends over the garage and entry at the front of the building giving both practical work space and storage area, while claiming plenty of access to the natural light from the bank of windows across the front of the building.

Image 08a

photography studio work space

Image 07

Since uni-directional light is the bane of any photographers existence, we augmented it with skylights spaced between the joists and a light sharing open wall to the full height living space at the back of the building.  The skylights are operable – opening and closing with a PV powered operator and a remote control – which not only adds stack ventilation but also nets the owner a tax credit!

The Photography Studio Design Process

When we came to the view the site it was a stripped and empty, tube-shaped brick building with a garage door at the front and back alley and very little else.  Yes, it really was that dark!

construction photo 1construction 0

We saw the potential that the owner had recognized.  The utilitarian brick walls were the most basic construction when it was built.  By comparison to today’s commercial construction it is simple but beautiful so we made an effort to show off the history of the building, even as we updated its use.  

elevation c

The high, empty space left plenty of room to subdivide out a car-storage area, a practical little kitchen and comfortable live/work hang out space and a mass of storage space above in a lofted second floor.

We combatted the darkness with new window openings at the back and skylights in the roof.

/Volumes/projects/Jordano Studio/Drawings/Plans/Jordano-Floorpla

The dark corner storage area at the rear, cut on a diagonal by the Ridge Avenue alley, was transformed into a bright but private courtyard.

We have a whole post laying out our design process (and its result) for the project.  So check out COMING SOON: PHOTO STUDIO IN FORMER UPTOWN GARAGE for more!

Construction Underway

The basic outline of the building stayed the same but, in the end, the only parts of the building envelope we didn’t touch were the two side walls – shared with other buildings.  Below you can see the excavation for new plumbing (the kitchenette and bathrooms – with concrete and dirt removed to make way for new pipes and then neatly patched back later.

construction photo 2

construction photo 4

Construction hasn’t finished but the light in the space has been dramatically increased.

construction photo 5

10 points if you can spot the bike that Chris rode on to conduct his site inspection!