Architecture | Educational and Cultural Institutions | Writers Theatre |

Writers Theatre - Theatres & Support Spaces

Writers Theatre | Glencoe, IL | 2016

Renowned theatre company Writers Theatre opened a new performance space worthy of its critically acclaimed productions.

What It Was

Renowned theatre company Writers Theatre opened a new performance space worthy of its critically acclaimed productions. Designed by Studio Gang Architects, the new LEED-Gold, 36,000-square-foot structure in downtown Glencoe, IL, was praised by Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin as a building that “doesn't just contain performance spaces; it celebrates and enhances them, becoming a memorable part of the drama.”

What We Did

Lightswitch Architectural designed the architectural lighting and controls for the entire complex, including the 250-seat Alexandra C. and John D. Nichols Theatre, 50- to 99-seat Gillian Theatre, the Green Family Rehearsal Room, circulation and public spaces, workspaces and back-of-house spaces. Throughout the interior, we integrated lighting into the structure to reveal its unique architectural elements with sources that minimize guest distraction. Concealed cove lighting reveals the texture of corridor walls, while stairs are illuminated by “invisible” tape light hidden beneath. In the main theater, custom square handrails shield light from the audience’s eyes during performances, while RGBW LEDs graze the reclaimed brick wall to give it a distinctive presence without visible pixels. For the back-of-house and support spaces, we crafted lighting systems that are specific to the special function of each space. In areas where color is extremely important, like prop, costume and wood shops, we added a secondary incandescent system that matches the stage lighting. Back-of-house spaces that are used during performances also feature a dual system—white lights for everyday use and low-output, blue lights that aren’t visible from the audience for performances.

Why It Worked

Our commitment to elevating the audience experience produced a space that immerses guests in the production, not the lights. Photos by George Lambros