DePaul University broke ground Wednesday for a new Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects-designed building for The Theatre School that will put the full theater experience - from production to performance - on view for the neighborhood and theater-goers. Opening in 2013, the building will provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into one of the country's top professional theater training programs and will be a gateway to the Lincoln Park campus.
"We have designed a building that shares the excitement of a theater education," said Cesar Pelli, FAIA, senior principal of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. "DePaul is known for reaching out to the community and our design supports this objective."
The design of the 165,000-square-foot glass-and-limestone building emphasizes openness and transparency. The 100-seat flexible theater projects from the northeast corner of the building, partially visible behind a translucent glass wall that will be lit at night. Floor-to-ceiling glass on the ground floor will reveal the scene shop, the student lounge and the lobby of the 250-seat thrust theater. There are few separations between teaching and performance: with the flexible theater on the fourth floor, audiences will pass classrooms and rehearsal rooms on their way to a show.
"The Pelli concept takes a very sophisticated approach to organizing the pieces of the building so that it engages and energizes the entire Theatre School community," said John Culbert, dean of The Theatre School. "When you attend a performance at the new building, you won't just step off the street into the theater. You will actually journey through the school, see its inner workings, be immersed in an experience not available anywhere else in Chicago."
The Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed building will be the first designed specifically for The Theatre School at DePaul University. Founded as the Goodman School of Drama in 1925, The Theatre School is the Midwest's oldest theater conservatory.