Details have been revealed for the renovation of the John B. Murphy Memorial Auditorium at 50 E Erie Street in River North. Located just east of the intersection with N Wabash Avenue and adjacent to the famed Driehaus Museum, the stone-clad structure is well known for its internal performance space and facade which has appeared multiple times in media. Now the museum itself is embarking on the renovations joined by Antunovich Associates and Bulley & Andrews on its design and engineering.
Built in 1926 by the American College of Surgeons in a French Renaissance-style by architecture firm Marshall and Fox, the six-story building is known for its three-story auditorium previously used by the college for training. The college also owned the Nickerson Mansion next door but departed in 1997 selling the house to the museum in 2003, and the auditorium in 2022 after operating it as an event space. Overall the work will focus on the interior with no changes expected for the exterior facade aside from repairs.
This will lead to the near-gutting of 32,000 square feet of existing office space for expanded educational areas. The new learning center will be the focus of the project with art and maker studios, a study center with classrooms, library, archives, office space, seminar rooms, and an 800-square-foot outdoor terrace on the top floor. The auditorium itself will also be restored to its original state and enhanced with improved acoustics and continue to operate as an event space.
The expanded facilities will allow for the Driehaus, which will remain fully open during the work, to add new activities and events for the community that are both public and private according to their strategic vision. Work is set to begin in June as the museum erects new sidewalk covers along the auditorium, pending no delays the project is expected to be completed by February 2024.