THE LOOP — Tribeca Flashpoint Academy has a high-tech curriculum that includes video game design and cutting edge audio and filmmaking techniques.
But the 5-year-old media arts school is reining in the modern aesthetic in its Burnham Center headquarters as it redesigns its new studio and screening space at 33 N. LaSalle St.
"This space is probably 75 or 100 years old, so it's a completely different feel," CEO and President Howard Tullman said. "It has these gigantic chandeliers, wood paneling, all of which we want to keep. We're going to incorporate the new technology, but it'll all be incorporated in. We don't want to take away from how the room looks."
The "new technology" Tullman has dreamed up for the space sounds like something out of one of his students' sci-fi flicks.
"I don't want to crum it up, which is why I'm thinking a lot of the things we change will be invisible," Tullman said. "It will look like this traditional space, and you'll push a button and the seats will come up from the floor, and speakers will come out of the walls."
Tribeca Flashpoint acquired the space adjacent to their main building at 28 N. Clark St. after being edged out of their Merchandise Mart facilities by Google, Tullman said.
He said it was all for the best: the new space is twice the size of their old studios, and connected to their main classroom area via an "integrated walkway." The school is just now beginning remodeling, but has been using the space since late November for classes.
"Right now, it's a blank canvas," said Edward Glassman, who heads the school's marketing department. "Over the next year, we're gonna create an environment where students can build film sets, put on performance concerts and host a series of live events ... . The space in Merchandise Mart served a similar purpose, but the space at 33 [N. La Salle St.] is more sizeable."
The school has already fielded inquiries about rentals for weddings and other events from some of Chicago's boutique hotels that lack ballroom space.
Tullman also hopes he can attract some high-profile attention to the venue, which he said provides a stunning backdrop for news conferences.
"I've already sort of said to people over at the mayor's office that the fifth floor press room in City Hall is the crappiest-looking thing in America," Tullman said. "So, the thought that Rahm would have a place to do some entertaining and announcements would be a wonderful thing. And since we're right next to City Hall, we certainly encourage that."
Tullman said the space will also be made available to visiting film crews in Chicago, who often use the school's screening rooms to review footage during daily shoots.