The Old Town School of Folk Music was founded in 1957 to celebrate music and cultural expressions rooted in the traditions of the United States and countries around the world. Significant growth during the last ten years prompted the need for an expansion of their facilities. A new 27,100 square-foot expansion, designed by VOA Associates Inc. and built by Bulley & Andrews, is now located across the street from the organization’s primary home on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.
Beloved by students, neighbors and the community at large, the project is now also the recipient of accolades from the Chicago Building Congress. On Wednesday, May 16th, the project won the 2012 Merit Award for Construction Under $15 million. Finalists in the category included Cantina Laredo, Congregation B’Nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim and Wilde and Greene. The Midway Crossings project at The University of Chicago, on which B&A served as General Contractor, was a finalist in the Infrastructure category of the awards.
“We have enjoyed a remarkable collaborative relationship with Bulley & Andrews that only grew stronger as the construction progress progressed,” said Bau Graves, executive director of Old Town School of Folk Music. “Watching the completion of the building was nothing short of astonishing, as the crews completed many weeks worth of work in the last few days.”
This is the Old Town School’s first new construction project in its 53-year history. Within five years of opening, the new facility aims to increase program access by 60 percent to serve an additional 4,800 students per week. It will also allow the school to expand outreach programs to public schools and other community partners to serve more children who do not currently have access to quality arts programming. The number of concerts will double to nearly 400 between the current 450-seat theater and its smaller but more flexible equivalent at the new facility. With the addition of this new facility, Old Town School will put forth an estimated total of $11 million into the local economy every year and support 800 permanent jobs.