The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Theatre School building earns top marks

(Photo courtesy of DEPAUL UNIVERSITY)
The Theatre School has received a 2015 Design Excellence Award from the American Institute of Architects. (Photo courtesy of DEPAUL UNIVERSITY)

The Theatre School at DePaul has received a 2015 Design Excellence Award from the American Institute of Architects Chicago (AIA Chicago), carrying a distinguishing ranking alongside other architectural accomplishments such as the United States Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel of Beijing, China. 

AIA Chicago commended The Theatre School building for standing out as “dynamic, yet respectful to the neighborhood.” The Institute also complimented the color-changing LED wall that faces Fullerton Avenue. It described the building as a whole as “diverse” and “lively.”

Theatre students were quick to agree.

“The building is designed to allow multiple working spaces,” graduate acting student Sola Thompson said.

This means students are free to work together and share inspiration throughout the building. Junior Evan Williams pointed out how productions rarely “overlap” because “there is enough space for all of them.”

Aside from the unique and modern design, The Theatre School is accommodating to its students, said sophomore Alyssa Kerr. Junior Alyse Porsella described how its up-to-date resources allow for less heavy lifting when it comes to equipment.

“The five-story building is a composition of rectangular forms clad in limestone, translucent, and transparent glass … large expanses of glass reveal the inner workings of theatre to the community at large. Wide corridors and open lounges encourage spontaneous collaboration. On the fifth level, a sky-lit lounge brings daylight into the core of the building,” AIA Chicago said.

“The glass panels bring in a lot of light,” senior Caroline Pramas said. She also noted how they allow students to see if their friends are in the lobby as they walk by.

AIA Chicago is the local chapter of the Washington, D.C. based AIA, and is the second largest chapter in the country. The organization, a collective of architects, architectural students, and professionals, “promotes positive change through the power of design,” according to its website. It provides education courses, lectures and numerous award programs.

A few other Chicago-area universities also made the list for 2015. Among others, AIA Chicago awarded Roosevelt University’s Wabash Building, its 32-story structure of distinctive blue glass, for “connecting the urban environment” of the city with Lake Michigan.

Northwestern University’s Music and Communication building and its Sailing Center both obtained distinction. The shattered-glass appearance of Columbia College’s 618 S. Michigan Ave. building was also recognized, which has the added benefit of deterring 80 percent of bird collisions, according to research by the glass manufacturer.

Other esteemed Chicago constructions include the newly renovated Café Galileo at Adler Planetarium and the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel located at 12 S. Michigan Ave. Both the CTA’s Damen Blue Line Station and its Cermak-McCormick Place Green Line Station received distinction.

This award to The Theatre School comes during the city’s first ever Chicago Architectural Biennial (CAB), which started in early October and will run until Jan. 3. This inaugural event, hosted by the non-profit CAB Corporation, is titled “The State of the Art of Architecture.”

The Chicago Architecture Foundation calls the biennial a “world’s fair of contemporary architecture.” It is meant to be a time period of recognizing prominent architecture, revealing innovative ideas, and encouraging the public to appreciate the feats of Chicago.

On a wider scale, this project aims to reinvigorate Chicago as a city at the center of architectural practices in the 21st century. The CAB allows the city to serve the world as a collective wealth of perspective, design and innovation.

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