old town school of folk music
a third space for the community
Located Uptown, Chicago, the new site for the Old Town School of Folk Music is situated in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Chicago. Within Uptown 27% of the residents are below the poverty line, and 25% were born outside of the United States. This level of diversity goes hand in hand with the mission of the Old Town School of Folk Music. Their mission is to make music for everyone. They believe that folk is not just music but a way of life. By promoting the folk tradition, they seek to foster community and a sense of belonging. They value diversity by welcoming all. 

In an interview with the director, he expressed that the school has become a third space for the community. It is a home away from home where people feel that they belong. To the school, the result of community is more important than the music itself. So then, how can the architecture come alongside the music to be the common ground that engages community?
The corner is carved away to create a public space that reaches out and draws people inside. This “front porch” creates the initial engagement of the folk school with the public community.
On the first level, people are brought right into the main circulation space. All the programmatic functions connect to that main path. As a result, people can engage with others on all different levels and from the various spaces.  
The concert hall creates an engaging, acoustically vibrant space with amphitheatre style seating. With no distinct separation between each level, this design creates an intimate space between the performers and visitors.
Breakout jam spaces placed in between the building masses provide moments for people on the inside to reconnect and engage with the public, and vice-versa. 
old town school of folk music
location: uptown, chicago
type: academic individual project
year: 2016
Back to Top