Rock Valley College commissioned the project to be completed piecemeal over three years because they simply didn’t have the funds to do it all at once. The original theatre had to be shut down in inclement weather, but nobody wanted to lose the feeling of watching great performances outdoors.
Incorporating a retractable roof into the new theatre allowed the architects to keep the sense of openness during sunny weather, while the elegant petal-like roof panels that fold into one another ensure that the show can go on when it rains. Most of the framing was done in wood and steel (both of which Illinois has in relative abundance) and the proscenium is clad in copper. Now a decade after its completion we probably have a much more stringent rubric for a building of this scale, but for its time, we think it’s pretty special.
images © Greg Murphy