Back in July 2011 we announced the selection of Studio Gang Architects’ to design a new home for Chicago’s beloved Writers’ Theatre in downtown Glencoe and have since been eagerly waiting for the first schematic renderings to be released. Well, they are finally here! And, as usual, Ms. Gang does not disappoint. Situated on the sloped Tudor Court site of the Glencoe Woman’s Library Club, the glass encased timber theatre transforms the structure into a theatrical spectacle, as the main performance space lined with a second story catwalk peers through the transparent facade and grasps the attention of anyone passing by.
More renderings and the architects’ description after the break.
Timber trusses structure the lobby, through which the 250-seat theater and flexible 99-seat theater are entered. At night, the lobby – visible from afar – is envisioned as a lantern that announces the Theatre and is poised to become Writers’ Theatre marquee.
The lobby is conceived as a gathering space that provides access to the stages and public spaces of the theatre. The spacious lobby will function as a central social gathering area for Writers’ Theatre’s audiences and also serve the dual purpose of providing space for pre- and post-show discussions, staged readings, education and family programming, community events, and concerts and lectures. Above, its second floor gallery circumscribes the space, providing additional viewing and people-watching positions.
Writers’ Theatre’s hallmark is audience and actor immersion, and thus a feeling of intimacy inside the 250-seat theater is paramount. Designed with input from Writers’ Theatre’s audience and artists, its thrust stage is surrounded by three seating banks, two of which are free standing. By detaching the seating banks from the exterior wall, the design intensifies the intimacy of the stage by extending the actors’ space all the way around and behind them. Audience members are literally sitting on the stage and drawn into the world of the play.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, “The budget for the project (for the building and a desired endowment) is likely to be in the range of $30 million, said executive director Kathryn Lipuma, with completion likely in three to four years.”
For more on Studio Gang Architects, check out their first exhibition Building: Inside Studio Gang Architects on view through February 24, 2013, at the Art Institute of Chicago. Also, don’t miss Gang’s “gem-like” office tower planned for her New York debut along the High Line in the city’s meatpacking district.