Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theatre

Rockford, IL

Built 2003

Rock Valley College


42,000 sf


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The design of Starlight Theatre maintains the tradition of open-air performances at Rock Valley College while offering new flexibility and comfort, allowing the company to extend its season and guarantee performances.

Beneath the roof, the central theater space forms an unexpected vertical axis to the sky that enhances the audience’s delight at being outdoors. With its new building and expanded programming possibilities, Starlight has become a regional destination and favorite summer venue for the community.

Technologies typically employed to move roofs over massive stadiums were adapted to fit the theater’s scale and budget.

In fair weather, the roof opens to the stars for a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience.

Original concept model

Hydraulic model

Video by Spirit of Space


Merit Award, United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT), 2005

Distinguished Building Award, Design Excellence Awards, AIA Chicago, 2004

Scholarship Prize/Best Overall Design Award, Metal Construction Association (MCA), 2004

Gold Medal/President's Award, Association of Licensed Architects (ALA), 2003

Award of Honor, Society of American Registered Architects (SARA), 2003