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The Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago has been a part of Chicago's history for nearly 100 years. Founded in 1916 as The Commercial Arts School, The Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago was one of the first applied art and design colleges in the United States. The school was known in the 1930s as Ray-Vogue School with professional programs in art, design, and fashion. It was renamed Ray College of Design in 1981, finally joining The Art Institutes systems of schools in 1995.
The Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago campus consists of two locations in downtown Chicago. The main campus is located at River North Point and connected by pedway to the Merchandise Mart, one of the largest design centers in the world. The second location, our Loop campus, is centrally located near Michigan Avenue in Chicago's Downtown Loop District at 180 N. Wabash. The two locations are connected by CTA (el) trains and are easily accessible by commuter trains servicing students who reside in Chicago's suburbs.
The River North Point campus houses the college library, which has computers loaded with industry relevant software. This campus also houses one of two Academic Learning Centers. The Interior Design department has a material library with a dedicated student worker to assist in managing the resources. This resource library also serves as a light lab where students can compare the characteristics and uses of a variety of lighting technologies. The Audio Department has an Audio Studio at the same campus.
The 180 N. Wabash (Loop campus) houses the majority of the classroom computer labs, two of which are open labs, and a Print Center offering high resolution 11 x 17 color prints. There is also a branch of the academic learning center, a digital photography studio, and facilities to support the Digital Film & Video, Illustration & Design, and Media Arts and Animation departments. Professional culinary kitchens and Backstage Bistro, the student run restaurant at The Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago, are also located in this building.
Many students choose to live in the school-sponsored housing "Automatic Lofts" at 410 S. Morgan in the West Loop of Chicago. School housing personnel live onsite to help students with any housing issues that may arise during the school term. Lofts are fully furnished and all utilities, cable, and internet are included in the rental fee.
Students gain experience and build relationships by joining student groups including the student newspaper, All Dining Club, American Advertising Federation, American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), Baking and Pastry Club, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Animation Club, Click Interactive Group, Fashion Focused, Film Club, and the school's Habitat for Human Campus Chapter.
The Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago also offers year-round activities such as morning mixers, wellness events, community service opportunities, leadership workshops, video game tournaments, and holiday parties.