Theater’s ability to bring people together across boundaries has made it an important force in urban life since ancient times. Studio Gang’s design for Glencoe’s Writers Theatre is intended to maximize this potential for a 21st-century theater company, creating an architecture that energizes the daily life of its community and becomes an exciting, region-wide cultural destination.
Organized as a village-like cluster of distinct volumes that surround a central hub, the building’s form resonates with the character of Glencoe’s downtown. The theater’s two performance spaces—a main stage and a smaller black box venue—employ innovative staging and seating configurations to maximize the sense of intimacy between actors and audience and to enhance the immersive experience of Writers’ productions.
Both of these performances venues, in addition to rehearsal space and public zones, open onto the central gathering space of the lobby. Structured by great timber Vierendeel trusses with a lighter wood lattice supporting its second-floor gallery walk, the lobby is designed to accommodate multiple uses.
The building engages its context through transparent visual connections and ivy-covered backdrops to the surrounding parks. In fair weather the lobby can open up to the adjacent Women’s Library Club Park, allowing the energy and interaction generated within the theater to extend outward into the community beyond. At night, the theater glows from within, drawing interest and activity to this important cultural anchor.