We moved into our space June 1st, 2012. One year later, we opened to the public. Here is a brief summary of the transformation of ODLCO from cold storage into design office and store, accompanied by process photos and before-and-after shots.
Prior to being ODLCO, the space was a refrigerated building for storing meat. The fridge and entire interior was demolished shortly before our move-in date (old interior pictured below). When we arrived, it needed every kind of work. The electrical conduit had been ripped from the ceilings, there were very few electrical outlets and no lights or switches. The bathroom upstairs was a shell of a men's bathroom, with a urinal and a barely-functioning sink. The front and back doors were thick steel doors with big gaps at the floor, and let in almost no light.
The first thing we did was rip out the bathroom walls and have the urinal removed. We also did some rudimentary plumbing to get the sink in working order and rough in drains for a shower that we would build later for the residence upstairs. Next we tackled the elevator shaft. The hydraulic elevator machinery couldn't be removed without great expense, so we built a very custom floating floor above it, covered it in Vinyl Composite Tile, wrapped the walls in Tyvek, built in some shelves, and called it an inventory closet.
Then over the next few months, while simultaneously re-doing our website and working on the Capitol Butter Dish and Trivet Runner, we had electrical boxes, outlets, and lights installed; built the upstairs shower; installed a wood-burning stove; replaced the refrigerator door with a glass storefront; and scraped and painted walls and ceilings upstairs and downstairs. We lent the raw space to a pop-up gallery, who built the drywall in the front in exchange. At this point, it was early December, and we opened an interim Holiday pop up shop before we resumed work on the floors.
In 2013, we leveled and painted the floors both upstairs and downstairs. This is a slow process: we packed the old drains with mesh and gravel, smoothed the floors with self leveling concrete, etched them to make the paint stick, coated them in primer, and finally, two coats of epoxy paint. We installed a downstairs heater (in February, a little late), started acquiring furniture and turned the front space into our office and a temporary classroom for one of the classes we teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Finally, in June, just after finishing our MCA Summer Cutaway Map project, we built the retail display furniture from a hacked IKEA shelving system and Home Depot roofing. Zeke Raney installed Fishtank, a series of wall hangings on loan to us. It was a happy day when we brought all the inventory out of the closet and put them out on shelves, just in time for the Guerrilla Truck Show.
We did most of the renovation work ourselves, and the past twelve months have been a balancing act between fund allocation, efficiency, impact, and workload. We're proud of how far we've come, and we hope to see you in the store or at our next event.
Thanks to Garry and Ellen Alderman, Jason Fried, and Chris Roeleveld for help and support throughout the project.