The new Writers Theatre. (Credit Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing)

Writers Theatre Opens New Jeanne Gang-Designed Center

The Chicago area theatre has a new two-venue home, the product of a $34 million fundraising campaign.

GLENCOE, ILL.: Writers Theatre opened its new theatre center on Friday. Designed by  Studio Gang Architects, led by Jeanne Gang, and built by general contractor W.E. O’Neil Construction, the two-theatre, 36,000-square-foot facility is located on the site of  the former Woman’s Library Club of Glencoe. The new center was developed in partnership with the Woman’s Library Club and the Village of Glencoe.

“Every aspect of our new theatre center contributes to an environment in which patrons can experience a play and our artists can reach into their souls to engage with our patrons,” said artistic director Michael Halberstam in a statement. “Everywhere one looks there is an architectural event to experience, bringing plays and audiences into intensely intimate engagement with each other. Jeanne Gang and her team’s profound understanding of this company has provided the perfect home for the word and the artist.”

The theatre’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, which will begin performances March 16, will be the first show to play in the new space. Halberstam is directing.

Founded in 1992, Writers Theatre recently operated out of two spaces: a 50-seat theatre in the back of the Books on Vernon bookstore and a 108-seat theatre at the Woman’s Library Club building. The new theatre center features a 250-seat thrust stage and a 99-seat flexible black box venue, as well as rehearsal rooms, production spaces, and public amenities—including a rooftop terrace and garden. Writers Theatre launched a $34 million fundraising campaign for the new space, $33 million of which has been raised.

“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,” principal architect Gang said in a statement. “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.”

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