Writers Theatre

Location
Glencoe, IL

Status
Built 2016

Client
Writers Theatre

Type
Cultural

Size
36,000 sf

Sustainability
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 performance 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 canopy walk, the lobby is designed to accommodate multiple uses including informal performances, talks, and community events.

The building engages its context through transparent visual connections and ivy-covered backdrops to the surrounding parks. In fair weather the lobby can open 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 civic and cultural anchor.

Video by Spirit of Space

Consultant Team

AMS Planning and Research, project advisor

Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, theater consultant

Coen + Partners, landscape architect

dbHMS, MEP/FP

Halvorson and Partners, structural engineering

Lightswitch, 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

Awards

Merit Award Recipient, Illumination Awards (Lightswitch), 2017

Finalist, The Plan Awards, Culture, 2017

Jury and Popular Choice Winner, Architizer A+ Awards, 2017

WoodWorks Wood Design Awards, 2017

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

Related

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Writers Theatre Wins 2017 Architizer A+ Awards

The Studio’s Civic Commons project was also recognized with a Special Mention.

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Vote for Writers Theatre in the Architizer A+ Popular Choice Awards

Writers Theatre is a finalist in the Architizer A+ Awards, and you can vote in the Popular Choice Awards.

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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.

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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.”

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American Way Magazine — “Stage Craft”

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