West Loop warehouses-turned-entertainment venues aren't a foreign concept, but the new Ovation space on 2324 West Fulton Street offers a slightly different spin on the concept, and not just because of the '59 Rolls Royce parked out front. The dilapidated former home of the Universal Electric Foundry, the 21,000-square-foot warehouse was made over by the creative team of Aash Desai and Hans Fedderke, of Helios Design Build and Demeter Millwork, and Pablo Diaz, the lead architect from Brininstool & Lynch, which kept the skeleton of the '30s-era building intact while adding modern materials and finishes.
Both an event space and the home of the Style Matters and String Theory music and arts collectives, Ovation was created for, and by, a team that had logged a lot of time in similar venues. Co-owner Spencer Lokken said that after they purchased the building in 2013 and began designing, they worked to "take elements from different buildings that we really loved" while still reflecting the space's industrial aesthetic.
The renovation added personality while maintaining the "blank canvas" concept necessary for a convertible event space. The team pasted over the former yellowing exterior, staining the brick gray and adding an ipe wood screen with aluminum frames for a more streamlined look. The addition of a 29-foot bar and tables made from reclaimed barnwood, a custom DJ booth, a pair of Robert Abbey chandeliers, a restored skylight and Void speakers made the cavernous exterior rustic and refined. The original steel frames and wooden boards remained as part of a largely intact ceiling and roof (minus the curious coils of barbed wire that were hanging around the skylights). The biggest addition was the geothermal heating system, which consists of a dozen 450-foot-deep well in the parking lot that help heat and cool the interior while providing a sustainable addition to the remodeled warehouse.