West Loop Not Rolling Out the Red Carpet For MTV’s “The Real World” Reality TV Show

1100 West Randolph - The Real World West Loop House Exterior

I think it was the Buggles who sang, “Skyscrapers killed the West Loop.”

Folks in my neighborhood don’t much like tall buildings. They aren’t very impressed by big-time movie stars and TV shows, either.

On Monday night, the executive producer of MTV’s “The Real World” gave residents a preview of the show’s 30th season venue—smack in the middle of Restaurant Row. The 20 people in attendance were less than welcoming.

There’s really only a minuscule architectural component to the story, but seriously, how often can you (mis)quote the Buggles?

1100 West Randolph - The Real World West Loop House InteriorThe latest season of “The Real World” will be set at 1100 West Randolph Street, also the site of the community meeting. It’s a former bar with a dark industrial chic decor and a red brick exterior. Inside, there’s metallic walls, gothic chandeliers and a bar glowing bright orange.

None of us residents will get inside during filming, though. Only the seven cast members—who’s every waking and sleeping minute will be filmed—have access. The production will begin in early August, assuming the city zoning board OK’s the request for a special use permit this Friday.

1100 West Randolph - The Real World West Loop House InteriorThe accompanying photos will give you some idea of what the inside of “The Real World” West Loop house will look like. The show, incidentally, is shot in documentary style, following the house guests (all in their early 20’s) as they learn about life, others and themselves.

Residents at the Monday community meeting were mostly concerned about school children from nearby schools being filmed without their parents’ approval. This is unlikely, since “The Real World” producers are careful to focus cameras solely on the house guests.

A West Looper who lived in Wicker Park during “The Real World” filming there in 2001 was less than thrilled about living through another production. That edition was plagued by protesters, paint thrown on the building where the cast members lived, and a corpse tossed onto the front door of said building. You can imagine how that prospect played on West Randolph.

1100 West Randolph - The Real World West Loop House InteriorDonnie Madia, part owner of neighboring One Off Hospitality (and a resident) took charge and spoke on behalf of the other residents. “I’m on point every day in my business, and I’m asking you [“The Real World” producers] to be on point for any issues that may arise,” Madia said.

That seemed to mollify most of the attendees, along with a verbal commitment that “The Real World” might make some contribution to the neighborhood in return for the fuss production could possibly cause.

Few changes will be made to the building itself before production begins. There are no windows at ground level, a positive for “The Real World” because nosy folks can’t peer inside at the proceedings. A kitchen and shower will be installed and outside, a patio surrounded by a hedge or fence will be added along West Randolph Street.

No signage or branding will be added to the nondescript building, which is basically how the MTV team wants things, to avoid attracting undue attention. That might not be too difficult to achieve. No loud parties are permitted inside, and the house guests are not allowed to watch TV or even listen to music. Once production concludes, the building actually might get a bit rowdier—the owners are thinking of converting it back to a bar or restaurant.

Location: 1100 West Randolph Street, West Town

Editor’s noteNo, this article isn’t off-topic. This blog’s purpose from its inception is to chronicle life in urban Chicago. The Yahoo web site isn’t just about cowboys. Amazon.com doesn’t only stock books about the rainforest. And The Chicago Architecture Blog isn’t limited to stories about architecture.


Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at bill@ChicagoArchitecture.org.

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