Writers Theatre

Glencoe, IL

Built 2016

Writers Theatre


36,000 sf

LEED Gold Certified


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Theater’s ability to bring people together across boundaries has made it an important force in urban life since ancient times.

Studio Gang’s design for Glencoe’s Writers Theatre is intended to maximize this potential for a 21st-century theater company, creating an architecture that energizes the daily life of its community and becomes an exciting, region-wide cultural destination.

Organized as a village-like cluster of distinct volumes that surround a central hub, the building’s form resonates with the character of Glencoe’s downtown. The theater’s two performance spaces—a main stage and a smaller black box venue—employ innovative staging and seating configurations to maximize the sense of intimacy between actors and audience and to enhance the immersive experience of Writers’ productions.

Both of these performances venues, in addition to rehearsal space and public zones, open onto the central gathering space of the lobby. Structured by great timber Vierendeel trusses with a lighter wood lattice supporting its second-floor gallery walk, the lobby is designed to accommodate multiple uses.

The building engages its context through transparent visual connections and ivy-covered backdrops to the surrounding parks. In fair weather the lobby can open up to the adjacent Women’s Library Club Park, allowing the energy and interaction generated within the theater to extend outward into the community beyond. At night, the theater glows from within, drawing interest and activity to this important cultural anchor.

Video by Spirit of Space

Consultant Team

AMS Planning and Research, project advisor

Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, theater consultant

Coen + Partners, landscape architect


Halvorson and Partners, structural engineering

Lightswitch Architectural Chicago, lighting

Peter Heppel Associates, engineering specialist

SPACECO, Inc., civil engineering

Threshold Acoustics, acoustics

Trillium Dell Timberworks, timber specialist

Venue, cost consultant

WMA Consulting Engineers, sustainability consultant

W.E. O’Neil, general contractor


Institute Honor Award, Interior Architecture, American Institute of Architects, 2016

Honor Award, Divine Detail, Design Excellence Awards, AIA Chicago, 2016

Honor Award, Interior Architecture, Design Excellence Awards, AIA Chicago, 2016

Citation of Merit, Distinguished Building, Design Excellence Awards, AIA Chicago, 2016



Arcus Center and Writers Theatre Finalists for World Architecture Festival Awards

Two of our recently completed projects have been shortlisted for the 2016 World Architecture Festival Awards.


Chicago Tribune — “New Writers Theatre Building in Glencoe Has a Flair for Drama”

“Here, architecture doesn’t just contain performance spaces; it celebrates and enhances them, becoming a memorable part of the drama—and the suburban landscape.”


American Way Magazine — “Stage Craft”

Studio Gang’s Writers Theatre is featured in American Airlines’ in-flight magazine, American Way.