Second City Expands at Pipers Alley
The Second City, Inc. announced today the signing of a lease with Old Town Development Associates, L.L.C., to expand into additional space at Pipers Alley (230 W. North Avenue) formerly occupied by the four-screen AMC movie theater. The new lease adds 25,000 square feet to their current 20,300 square feet of space and essentially doubling its current footprint. The new space will allow the Second City Training Center, the largest school of comedy in the world, to add an array of student-centered facilities including new classrooms, two student theaters, a screening room, a student resource center, a student lounge and bar, two large special events spaces and additional space for the companies' growing businesses.
Named one of "The 25 Best Drama Schools in 2014" alongside Yale School of Drama, The Juilliard School and Carnegie Mellon University by The Hollywood Reporter, The Second City continues to develop an entirely unique way of creating and performing comedy. Last month, The Second City Training Center announced the launch of its TV, Film and Digital Program, under the direction of Jack C. Newell. New classrooms will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology including voiceover studios, on-camera training studios and editing suites to accommodate the Digital Program launch.
"We are very excited to enhance our students' experience with the development of this new space," says Andrew Alexander, CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City, Inc. "This will give the opportunity for more student performances in front of audiences, resources to enhance their education, places to work and collaborate, and program-specific materials and technology in classrooms. For our team, it's taking what's already a fantastic training institution and heightening it to the best experience possible for our students."
The second-floor space at Pipers Alley first opened as a movie theater in 1991, and has been unoccupied since AMC went dark on May 26, 2011. The Training Center's multi-million-dollar build-out begins immediately, with physical enhancements to include opening up the bricked-over 22-foot high window arches overlooking North Avenue and Wells Street. The space is expected to be completed and serving students by spring of 2015.
Long in the works, the expansion is in response to The Training Center's desire to launch new and progressive programming while maintaining the high teacher to student ratio and enhancing the overall student experience. With the acquisition of the AMC space, the Second City Training Center can keep its educational programming under one roof - close to its history and next to its professional theaters. Students on a professional track can get even more stage time, and with the growth of the overall student body, additional theaters can accommodate end of term graduation performances. The new Student Resource Center will give students an actual on-site workspace.
"For years we've been listening to student feedback and building this plan to fulfill their requests," says Kerry Sheehan, President of the Second City Training Centers & Education Programs. "Not only will we be able to better accommodate our wait lists in core programs - such as improvisation and writing - but our newer initiatives into digital media and advanced classes for the professionally tracked student will have room to grow and thrive."
The Second City is the leading brand in improv-based sketch comedy. With theaters and training centers in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood, 11 full-time touring ensembles, thriving corporate communications and theatricals divisions as well as television and film operations, The Second City has been called "A Comedy Empire" by The New York Times. The Second City Training Center has a current student body of 5,000 per week and is the largest school of comedy in the world.