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Harper Theater Renovation

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megenb, OKW Architects

Project Name

Harper Theater Renovation


53rd and Harper

Project Status


Year Completed



University of Chicago and HSA Commercial


  • Altus Works
  • General Contractor: Premier Design + Build Group
  • Civil Engineer: Larson Engineering

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Project Description

Horatio Wilson designed movie theater originally opened in 1915 as a 1,200 seat vaudeville house. By the early 1990’s the movie house and retail complex had fallen into significant disrepair, then vacant. The University of Chicago purchased this Landmark "Orange" property in 2002 with plans to make this the cornerstone of a revitalized 53rd Street commercial district. With input from the University’s real estate manager HSA Commercial, and feedback from the passionate Hyde Park community, OKW led a team in the careful restoration of the building’s brick and terra cotta façades, and the reconfiguration of interior spaces into a viable assembly of retail and office spaces, as well as a multi-screen 389 seat movie venue. A revitalized theater marquee and new vertical sign adorn the Theater’s facade capturing the essence of the century-old theater building while reflecting the modern spirit of contemporary Chicago.
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