The Second City, Chicago, IL

About this Project

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Size: 80,000+ square feet
Client: The Second City
Architect: Barker Nestor
Delivery Method: Negotiated and Hard Bid

Training Center, Harold Ramis School of Comedy and 1959 Kitchen & Bar

This multi-project renovation in the historic Piper’s Alley building, located in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, totals over 80,000 SF of new classrooms, theaters, recording studios, offices, restaurant, kitchen, and bar. The interior build-out for the Training Center and Harold Ramis School of Comedy features ten private classrooms and two small theaters for improvisational training. A multi-purpose space with tiered stadium seating acts as a space for training, acting, and events. The high-end finishes and comedic artwork add to the space’s character. The Harold Ramis School of Comedy is the only film school in America solely dedicated to teaching comedy. Builtech also renovated the former AMC theater space into The Second City’s full-service 1959 Bar and Kitchen Restaurant and expanded their training facility to include a sound stage and two additional performance stages. Builtech also completed a Fire Restoration Project in the fall of 2015 following a fire in a first-floor restaurant under The Second City space. Over 25,000 SF of the exterior and interiors’ main stage and adjoining bar were repaired and open for business within two weeks of the fire. The facilities additional theaters were restored and opened within three weeks of the fire.

Challenge(s): Working in a building that is over 120 years old that was originally four buildings that were joined together almost 40 years ago, followed by dozens of remodels creates a series of challenges. We had to reinforce parts of the original building’s structure to find that the original construction was more inadequate than originally assumed so additional modifications had to be made quickly with the engineers and architects to keep to our schedule. We opened up several areas that have been sealed off for over 40 years to find everything from abandoned staircases to unknown waste lines and power feeds that had to be worked around or relocated. Every building has its challenges, but with the age and undocumented changes to Piper’s Alley, we never knew what we would find as we went. And working in a building that has other tenants open for business as well as Second City having classes, shows, and events, we had to make sure we coordinated our work around certain time slots due to noise and dust and with barricades or other safety measures to protect the public from our work. The fire in the first floor restaurant required us to divert all our attention to restoring the areas that were damaged so Second City could remain operational and start having their shows again – this required a lot of coordination, long hours and dedication from all parties involved to get this done while we tried to keep the original project moving forward.

Solution(s): We had a great team of subcontractors, architects, and engineers that were able to work together and communicate well. We had a lot of changes and redesigns due to the inherent unknowns of a building of this age and accommodating Second City’s immediate needs following the fire that we had to make sure we kept open communication and relying on the team we built to work together and think outside of the box when it came to solutions.

About this Project

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Size: 80,000+ square feet
Client: The Second City
Architect: Barker Nestor
Delivery Method: Negotiated and Hard Bid

Training Center, Harold Ramis School of Comedy and 1959 Kitchen & Bar

This multi-project renovation in the historic Piper’s Alley building, located in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, totals over 80,000 SF of new classrooms, theaters, recording studios, offices, restaurant, kitchen, and bar. The interior build-out for the Training Center and Harold Ramis School of Comedy features ten private classrooms and two small theaters for improvisational training. A multi-purpose space with tiered stadium seating acts as a space for training, acting, and events. The high-end finishes and comedic artwork add to the space’s character. The Harold Ramis School of Comedy is the only film school in America solely dedicated to teaching comedy. Builtech also renovated the former AMC theater space into The Second City’s full-service 1959 Bar and Kitchen Restaurant and expanded their training facility to include a sound stage and two additional performance stages. Builtech also completed a Fire Restoration Project in the fall of 2015 following a fire in a first-floor restaurant under The Second City space. Over 25,000 SF of the exterior and interiors’ main stage and adjoining bar were repaired and open for business within two weeks of the fire. The facilities additional theaters were restored and opened within three weeks of the fire.

Challenge(s): Working in a building that is over 120 years old that was originally four buildings that were joined together almost 40 years ago, followed by dozens of remodels creates a series of challenges. We had to reinforce parts of the original building’s structure to find that the original construction was more inadequate than originally assumed so additional modifications had to be made quickly with the engineers and architects to keep to our schedule. We opened up several areas that have been sealed off for over 40 years to find everything from abandoned staircases to unknown waste lines and power feeds that had to be worked around or relocated. Every building has its challenges, but with the age and undocumented changes to Piper’s Alley, we never knew what we would find as we went. And working in a building that has other tenants open for business as well as Second City having classes, shows, and events, we had to make sure we coordinated our work around certain time slots due to noise and dust and with barricades or other safety measures to protect the public from our work. The fire in the first floor restaurant required us to divert all our attention to restoring the areas that were damaged so Second City could remain operational and start having their shows again – this required a lot of coordination, long hours and dedication from all parties involved to get this done while we tried to keep the original project moving forward.

Solution(s): We had a great team of subcontractors, architects, and engineers that were able to work together and communicate well. We had a lot of changes and redesigns due to the inherent unknowns of a building of this age and accommodating Second City’s immediate needs following the fire that we had to make sure we kept open communication and relying on the team we built to work together and think outside of the box when it came to solutions.

Balance is innate in everything we do. Our entrepreneurial spirit is balanced with the sophistication and discipline of a much larger firm. This allows us to be flexible, nimble and manage risk for our clients – earning their trust one job at a time.
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