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Old Town School of Folk Music

An urban institution dedicated to American folk music and dance

Chicago, Illinois

Founded in 1957, the Old Town School of Folk Music is a beloved institution that celebrates cultural expressions rooted in the traditions of the United States and countries around the world. A significant growth in interest over the last ten years prompted the need for additional space. This new building provides classrooms, studios, and performance space for folk music, dance, theater, and visual arts.

The glassy welcoming lobby, known as “the Front Porch”, features a steel and terrazzo staircase that supports impromptu performances, with glass guardrail panels featuring portraits of folk music legends drawn by artist R. Crumb. The back wall of the entrance lobby is an acoustically-engineered surface with windows that admit light, but not sound. Modeled on an acoustic device called a Schroeder Diffuser, the wall provides optimum acoustics for adjacent spaces.

Interior corridors that provide niches for conversing and jamming lead to acoustically-isolated classrooms, dance studios, and a 150-seat multi-use performance space with telescoping bleachers and built-in sound control facilities. The new building provides facilities to support the inclusive, creative, and inspiring culture that the institution serves.

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