Chicago Shakespeare Theater unveils intimate and innovative new venue on Navy Pier

You can’t really appreciate it unless you come again and again to experience how different this room can feel for each production. It’s not just going to be what is on the stage, but where is the stage?
– Andy Hales, Charcoalblue managing partner

Visitors to Chicago’s Navy Pier can now enjoy a show inside one of the world’s most flexible theatres, which has been constructed inside the attraction's Skyline Stage.

Theatre design consultancy Charcoalblue and design firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) have collaborated on the ambitious reuse project, called The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Rather than constructing a new theatre from scratch, the duo instead designed a fully enclosed, year-round chamber inside the vast tent, with fewer than six inches of clearance at the narrowest point between the steel beams and the canopy.

Eighteen 95ft-long (29m) micropiles were driven into the lake’s bedrock below Navy Pier to support the additional weight of The Yard, and the 33,000sq ft (3,000sq m) site has been connected to Chicago Shakespeare’s existing theatre via a new two-level mirrored glass lobby. Meanwhile, the old Skyline’s Stage backstage support areas have all refurbished for reuse.

“At the foundation of my philosophy is the idea that ‘form follows performance’ – and nowhere is that more clear than in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare,” said AS+GG founding partner Gordon Gill. “Its ability to adjust and adapt to the needs of the art is genuinely innovative, and we’ve accomplished it in a sustainable and cost-conscious way, which I believe will make it a model for theatres to come.”

Flexibility is central to The Yard. Nine audience seating towers, each the size of a London double-decker bus, can be rearranged in twelve different configurations, with audience capacities ranging from 150 to 850. Compressed air skid technology, often used in the aeronautical industry, lifts each of the 15.8 tonne towers marginally off the ground on a bed of air, allowing them to be moved by a three-person team.

“This theatre is going to be unique in the world,” said Andy Hayles, managing partner of Charcoalblue. “You can’t really appreciate it unless you come again and again to experience how different this room can feel for each production. It’s not just going to be what is on the stage, but where is the stage.”

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater's executive director Criss Henderson added: “The versatility of the space means that it is perfectly suited to the widest range of our work: from large-scale musicals and new commissioned works, to international imports and programs for young audiences, and, of course, bold imaginings of Shakespeare’s plays and the classics.”

Construction on the project began in March 2016, and was completed in 18 months at a cost of only US$35m (€30m, £26m) – under half of what would have been required to build a new venue from scratch.

More than 200 architects, engineers and designers, and 400 construction workers contributed to the complex build, which incorporated 2,500 tons of concrete, 375 tons of steel and 15 miles of electrical conduit.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater  The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare  Charcoalblue  Andy Hayles  theatre design  Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture 
Related stories

James Corner completes first regeneration phase of Chicago's Navy Pier

Shakespeare theatre on Chicago's Navy Pier to undergo US$35m expansion

US$45m Chicago Blues Experience coming to city's iconic Navy Pier

Visitors to Chicago’s Navy Pier can now enjoy a show inside one of the world’s most flexible theatres, which has been constructed inside the attraction's Skyline Stage. Theatre design consultancy Charcoalblue and design firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) have collaborated on the ambitious reuse project, called The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Rather than constructing a new theatre from scratch, the duo instead designed a fully enclosed, year-round
CLD,VAT,AAC,ARC,DES,DEV
A new two-level glass lobby leads to the theatre, constructed beneath an existing tent canopy on the pier / Vito Palmisano
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7568     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7568     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: Matrix Fitness
Unrelenting drive to be the best at what we do underpins activity throughout our vertically integrated business life cycle.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Interview: Blurred lines
Scott Lee became president of SB Architects in 2000. Tracy Lee founded TLee Spas in 2015
"We design to connect the guest to the place, positioning people at the centre of the design"

Architect Scott Lee and spa consultant Tracey Lee on marrying the worlds of design and wellness in a series of interesting projects

The Tree Canopy Walk has platforms designed to ‘lure’ people into the woods
Alan Metcalfe
"When people are a bit scared, they gather together"

Featuring a vibrating glass platform and one of the US’s longest tree canopy walks, Whiting Forest has been designed to bring visitors closer to nature and to one another

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
Alcide Leali Jnr
"Wellness embraces the entire holiday experience"

The design of the newly-opened Lefay Resort and Spa Dolomitti in Italy aims to celebrate and protect its spectacular surroundings

Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards is housed in 35 Hudson Yards, a tower building designed by SOM’s David Childs
"Further hotels have been confirmed for Los Angeles, Santa Clara, CA, Seattle, Chicago and Houston"

Rockwell Group and Joyce Wang on the inspirations behind the guest rooms, public spaces, spa and gym at Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards

Marianne Shillingford
"The technology involved in paint is extraordinary"

Used cleverly, colour has the power to influence how people use the spaces they inhabit, says the creative director of Dulux

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, US
José Almiñana
"We are committed to designing evocative landscapes informed by the best environmental science"

The Andropogon principal on pushing the boundaries of landscape design for the benefit of humans and nature

cladkit product news
Siminetti unveils first glimpses of Mother of Pearl decorative surfaces inspired by the four seasons
The new winter design is finished with naturally occurring hexagonal patterns found in snowflakes
Megan Whitby
Siminetti has collaborated with British designer Chrisanna London to create a luxury Mother of Pearl decorative surface range inspired by ...
Móz Designs columns anchor the world’s largest indoor aquarium
The design of the columns was inspired by the sea
Magali Robathan
After a two-year renovation, Oakland-based metal experts Móz Designs have unveiled their inclusion in Georgia Aquarium’s new shark gallery. Located ...
Atelier Alain Ellouz launches handcrafted precious stone lighting collection
LYRA has a sleek, cylindrical design complete with an elegant brass dimming switch
Megan Whitby
LYRA, GAMA, MONA and ATHENA are the first pieces from designer Atelier Alain Ellouz’s new.édition collection of handcrafted stone lighting ...
cladkit product news
ASPA International launches handheld UV-C light disinfection lamp
The compact plug-in product can be used easily in a commercial spa or domestic setting to disinfect surfaces with UV-C light
Megan Whitby
For over 30 years, ASPA International has designed and built high-quality spas for the hotel, health and wellness sectors. During ...
Painting with Light pushes boundaries to create unforgettable visual concepts
The team combines lighting, video, sound and special effects, with scenic and architectural elements, to create unforgettable visual experiences
Megan Whitby
Belgium-based light and video design studio, Painting with Light, will translate the story of your location into a visual experience, ...
Matteo Thun grows Allaperto collection with new suspended outdoor armchair
Megan Whitby
Allaperto, the lounge collection spawned by the partnership between design studios, Matteo Thun, Ethimo and Antonio Rodriguez, has been expanded ...
cladkit product news
LianTronics’ glasses-free 3D Star Trek LED screen attracts attention
Magali Robathan
LianTronics’ giant curved LED wall with stunning glasses-less 3D spaceship display effect has attracted many on the street of Chengdu, ...
Christie laser projectors power new Five Senses Bubble dome theatre
The dome aims to integrate technology with arts and culture
Magali Robathan
Christie® GS Series 1DLP® laser projectors are delivering vivid and lifelike visuals in a new dome theatre located in Xiong’an ...
Cosm unveils Experience Centre with ‘one of a kind’ LED dome
The new Experience Centre houses a 20m LED dome
Magali Robathan
Cosm, a global technology company that builds end-to-end solutions for immersive experiences, has unveiled its Experience Centre which houses a ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates