165,000 square feet/15,000 square meters
The new home for The Theatre School serves as the western gateway
to DePaul University’s Lincoln Park campus and was conceived by the
world-renowned architectural firm of Pelli Clarke Pelli, designers of the World
Financial Center in New York and the Petronas Towers in Malaysia. The famed
Cesar Pelli was integral in the initial stages of the design process for this
The design emphasizes openness and transparency, allowing the
surrounding community to see both the theatrical and educational process
Openness and inclusiveness were also key elements of the design
process, where faculty and staff took part and helped to shape the facility
inside and out.
Floor-to-ceiling glass on the ground floor places the scene shop
and paint shop on display for the neighborhood. The scene and paint shop spaces
are twice as large as the former shops, at 7,550 square feet.
The facility boasts the Fullerton Stage, a 250-seat thrust
theatre, as well as the Sondra & Denis Healy Theatre, a 100-seat flexible
theatre on the 4th floor. Audience members coming to the Healy
Theatre will pass classrooms and rehearsal rooms in action, further minimizing
distinctions between performance, process, and training workspaces.
The Fullerton Stage houses a complete rigging and automation
system featuring moveable spot hoists, motorized linesets, and current scenic
technologies and automation controls.
The Healy Theatre accomodates eight seating configurations, allowing for flexibility and creativity among directors, actors, designers, and technicians alike. A distinguishing feature is the completely transparent north wall overlooking Fullerton Avenue.
Two new theatres in this facility provide numerous opportunities
to engage the DePaul Lincoln Park campus and its surrounding community in new
and exciting ways.
To engage pedestrians, facades are composed of a rhythm of vertical
bands of glass and limestone that vary in width. Limestone was chosen to
connect this building with other iconographic buildings on campus also
constructed with limestone, such as the St. Vincent DePaul Church. The building
mass is stepped back at both Fullerton and Racine to make the building appear
smaller in scale.
The school entrance opens into a lobby, lounge, and box office.
The lobby serves as the ‘living room’ of the building, where theatre patrons,
faculty, staff, and students congregate.
A ‘great staircase’ painted in bright yellow provides a connection
to all five floors of the building, and can be seen from the outside, providing
visual interest and a fun alternative to elevator use.
Throughout the building wide corridors, open lounges, and rooftop
courtyards encourage interaction between students and faculty, and among
The building is designed with the goal of attaining LEED Silver
certification. Strategies to reduce energy consumption include frit glass
throughout the building; day lighting for offices, design studios, and
classrooms; and a green roof.
Ten acting laboratories are also configured as performance spaces,
and are enhanced with sound and lighting capabilities. Two of these labs are comparable
to black box theatres. The new building also boasts two full green rooms and 14
dedicated dressing rooms.
The building features three rehearsal spaces that are built to accommodate
each of the three theatres, including DePaul’s historic Merle Reskin Theatre in
the South Loop, and the two new theatres, the Fullerton Stage and the Sondra
& Denis Healy Theatre. The Merle Reskin Theatre continues to house our
Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences Series, which welcomes over
30,000 audience members each year.
The new script library contains 400 linear feet of shelving and
offers a view of Racine Avenue from the fourth floor.
The facility contains a centrally located large-scale freight
elevator that can also transport up to fifty audience members at a time to the
Healy Theatre on the fourth floor.
The building fully supports the design and technical programs of
the school and includes a CAD lab, design studio, scene and paint shop,
rendering studio, light lab, sound lab, and full drafting lab. Design studios
are located at the top of the building and offer stunning views of downtown
A double leaf hydraulic “drawbridge” connects the west and east
sides of the second floor, allowing scenery to be transported from the paint
shop to the Fullerton Stage without disassembly.
The new home for The Theatre School is part of DePaul University’s
Fullerton Arts Corridor which includes the DePaul Art Museum, classes and
studios for Visual Arts, and facilities and performance spaces for the School