The Alice B. Rapoport Center for Education & Engagement, or “The Alice”, entails the adaptive reuse of 10,000 sf of former office space on the second floor adjacent to the Goodman Theatre, to expand the theatre’s community engagement and outreach programs. The new non-profit center allows for the Goodman to grow its programming by 30 percent, providing even more free opportunities for the Chicago youth through free public programs, readings, seminars, auditions and workshops. The center is dedicated and named in honor of Alice B. Rappoport, a Goodman trusee and chair of the company’s Education and Community Engagement Committee, who championed the Goodman’s community outreach programs.
The project includes two rehearsal labs, a reception and lobby space, and all support spaces including centralized video control space for the entire Goodman facility. In Phase II, two STEM learning labs and an auditioning studio space will be added. “The Alice” is envisioned as a space which quietly underscores the natural world in the heart of the city. Atop a field of end grain oak flooring is a meandering “curtain” of double sided acoustical wood slats with acoustical fabric and insulation behind. This wall defines the threshold between public and learning spaces, breaking to define the entry in to the studio spaces, through the “parting of the curtains”.
Concrete columns are left exposed to “puncture the clouds”, revealed and lit from above. The organic arrangement of the lighting and diffusers in the ceiling reinforce the concept of “under the stars” throughout the space. A small staircase and millwork-clad wheelchair lift are designed to keep the entrance open and welcoming and to bridge the 5-foot difference between the existing and new space. All studio spaces are designed with sophisticated audio visual equipment, lighting (both natural and artificial) and acoustical considerations. The floor and ceiling throughout is acoustically isolated from the structure–with resilient pads and acoustical hangers–to reduce noise transmission to occupants above and below. The natural materials and modern aesthetic are designed to contrast with the existing Goodman Theatre and pay homage to Alice’s connection to nature and her love of running outdoors.