Meet the Challenge Capital Campaign




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VanderCook College of Music is currently engaged in a capital campaign, Inspire. Build. Sustain. This $7,000,000 project is undertaking the adaptive reuse of a second Mies van der Rohe building for the college and transforming it into an educational music center and performing arts space.  The new facility will benefit VanderCook, its students and programs, and offer extended opportunities for students on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus as well as area residents in the Bronzeville, Bridgeport, and South Loop areas of the city to experience music as a creator, performer or listener.

VanderCook College of Music traces its origins to 1909 when the legendary Hale A. VanderCook opened his cornet school on Chicago’s west side.  The school grew quickly and in the 1930’s, became a four-year college.  VanderCook was one of the first three institutions in the country to offer a degree in music education.

Since 1996, VanderCook has been housed in its current location, a Mies van der Rohe building at 3140 S. Federal Street on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus.  This space served as the “technical center” of a set of three buildings designed by van der Rohe and built for the Association of American Railroads (AAR).  These three buildings were later deeded to the Illinois Institute of Technology in the 1990’s when the AAR moved its operations to Pueblo, Colorado.  At the time VanderCook moved into its present location, enrollment was about 60 students.  Today, VanderCook has over 125 students using the same space.  The college has also expanded its outreach to various school music ensembles and students throughout the year, attracting over 12,000 students annually.  Today, VanderCook finds itself with rehearsal rooms that are over-crowded and students unable to find adequate places to practice. In addition, the college has never had its own dedicated performance area. 

The second building (used by the AAR for research and testing) is located steps from VanderCook’s current location.  This 22,500-square-foot facility will provide much-needed rehearsal and practice areas, the college’s first dedicated performance area, teaching studios, faculty offices, a lobby/reception area that will double as a rehearsal area, and much more.  VanderCook also takes great pride in this day of “tear down and rebuild,” that it has committed itself to the historical preservation of the work of an iconic Chicago architect.

The transformation will occur in two phases.  Phase One will develop over one-half of the space and includes the mezzanine area complete with practice teaching areas, a large classroom, faculty offices, a piano studio and ensemble rooms.  The first floor area will include a renovated entrance; band, choral and orchestral music libraries; audio-visual production area; upgraded restrooms; an elevator; student lounge; and special event café. In addition, the first floor will be home to the George A. Quinlan, Sr. Recital Hall.  

Phase One will allow the college to expand its offerings, greatly enhance the available space for its students, and provide necessary space to provide free and reduced music lessons, concerts, and activities for area school children and the community at large.  Benefits of Phase One include:

  • An increase of 150% for rehearsal space for the college band, choir, orchestra, and jazz band,
  • Practice/teaching studios providing an additional 644 hours per week of available space for private lessons, individual practice, and small chamber ensemble rehearsals; 
  • Ensemble rooms offering 184 hours per week of space for chamber ensembles and instrumental techniques classes;
  • A conducting laboratory with recording and score resources for students to practice and study music interpretation as well as refining their rehearsal and baton technique;
  • Classroom space providing 92 additional hours of group instructional space per week; and
  • Twelve additional pianos available for student use and classroom instruction.

Phase Two will include a large main theatre space designed to be adaptable to performances of any size and genre.  It promises to be a perfect area for concerts, lectures, and gatherings of all types and will house up to 400 people.  In addition, Phase Two will include a second classroom, be home to our percussion studies area, while adding additional teaching/practice areas, student lockers, and storage. 

In addition to the transformation of this second building, VanderCook will modify its existing facility by expanding and increasing holdings storage and student work areas in the music education library, and provide additional classroom space, while providing additional teaching/practice areas.

The college has never had a greater need than it does now.  In order to provide our students the educational facilities they need and deserve and to meet the needs of our curriculum we must expand, upgrade and enhance VanderCook’s campus. 

To learn more about this project or for more information about VanderCook College of Music, please contact Dr. Charles T. Menghini, President Emeritus, at 312.788.1129 or


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VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

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