Filmmakers’ home becomes “go-to” Chicago location

On location at 16th & Michigan

On location at 16th & Michigan

“Chicago Fire” and
“Real Sports with
Bryant Gumbel”
are among the shows
that have filmed in
the 2,200 sq.-ft. loft
on South Michigan Ave.


Filmmaker Cyrus Dowlatshahi was inspired by more than real estate when he decided to purchase his home five years ago.

“I was looking for a place and just got really lucky,” he says.

Located in a former Studebaker truck showroom at 1617 S. Michigan Ave., the 2,200 sq.-ft. loft that he purchased has become a popular location for TV shows shooting in Chicago. It is now available for one-day and extended shoots through the owner, who has relocated to New York but remains on the condo board.

Skylight, staircase
Skylight, staircase

“It’s basically one big studio with 17-foot ceilings, brick walls, hardwood floors, and no separation throughout the room,” he says. “If someone wants to build something, as long as it’s safe, they can go right ahead.”

A row of large windows, a spiral staircase and a natural sunlight increase the visual quality.

Dowlatshahi has leased the property as a location for episodes of NBC’s Chicago Fire and HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, among others. But the Hyde Park native’s original intention was to live there and, for a while, that’s how it was used.

It made a perfect home base during the production of Takin’ Place, an award-winning documentary about “ordinary people and everyday life on the South Side of Chicago” that Dowlatshahi released in 2014.

When he moved to New York for freelance opportunities a few years later, however, the loft took on a whole new life.



“Bryant Gumbel needed a place to shoot a sit-down interview, an open space that was not a studio,” he recalls. “They filmed shows with Richard Dent and Falon Fox, the MMA fighter.”

Dowlatshahi believes that the loft’s “interesting background” and “warm feel” were among the details that motivated the show’s producers, who have casually referred to it as a “go-to” Chicago location since then.

“It’s a really unique space,” he continues. “People try to emulate what this just naturally is: big and open.”

Living room
Living room

The building’s exterior and surrounding neighborhood have also proven to be TV-worthy, as seen in the May 2017 episode of Chicago Fire titled, Carry Me.

During the episode, three of the characters move into Dowlatshahi’s loft, which is presented as a Chicago apartment.

“The story was about the building, the apartment, and living in the apartment,” Dowlatshahi explains. “They shut off a lane of traffic on Michigan Ave. to make room for a crane that shined a light into the loft to create a daylight affect.”

Production also allowed tenants to learn how on-location filming would affect their daily lives, an issue that raised concerns among the condominium board when NBC scheduled the shoot. By the end of the day, they were thrilled.

Cyrus Dowlatshahi
Cyrus Dowlatshahi

“That was a great for experience for everybody,” he says. “It was like, ‘wow, this is actually a really cool, fun thing.’”

As a professional filmmaker himself, Dowlatshahi also naturally credits the crew with helping to create the success.

“The NBC people were willing to compensate for the inconvenience and they allayed everybody’s fears,” he says. “The big lights, cameras and stressed out people with gaff tape hanging from their belts running around on shoot day were fun for the neighbors to see.”

To learn more about the loft, click here.

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