Studio Gang Architects recently completed yet another gorgeous and environmentally friendly building in Chicagoland: The Writers Theater. Built to replace an aging 108-seat space, the Writers Theater is a LEED Gold-seeking performing arts center located on the site of the former Woman’s Library Club of Glencoe. The new 36,000-square-foot theater not only recycled 98% of the former building materials, but also includes green roofs, energy-efficient mechanical systems, and locally sourced materials.
Envisioned as a “theater in a park,” the new Writers Theater is surrounded by parkland and emphasizes a connection to the outdoors with the building’s most defining feature: the Grand Gallery Walk. Elevated off the ground and located around the atrium, the exterior walkway is enclosed in a glass and timber facade that overlooks both the main lobby area and beautiful views of the surrounding landscape and green roof. The timber screen features a modern Tudor-style design with Vierendeel trusses and a wood lattice, and is described by the architects as a “unique feat of engineering” created in collaboration with structural engineers, Halvorson and Partners, and renowned engineer Peter Heppel. At night, the gallery walkway glows like a lantern and creates a beacon-like effect to welcome visitors.
The Writers Theater was completed as the centerpiece of a $34 million fundraising campaign and more than doubles the space of the previous theater. The new Writers Theater comprises two theater spaces—a 250-seat Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theater and the 50 to 99-seat black box Gillian Theater—; the spacious Litowitz Atrium; the Stephanie and Bill Sick Rooftop Terrace; and the luminous Grand Gallery Walk.
“Writers Theatre now has a home to enhance the spoken word and create meaningful dialogue between the actors, audience, and the greater community through live performance,” said architect Jeanne Gang. “Through open, transparent public spaces, the new center creates settings for the kind of daily collaboration that is fundamentally exhibited in the missions of both Writers Theatre and Studio Gang. The building exhibits this collective of values through form and craft, itself becoming a lantern for the community and transforming the future of Writers Theatre.”
Images by Steve Hall (c) Hedrich Blessing