The Yard, Chicago Shakespeare (CST) innovative new theater on Navy Pier opened yesterday after months of planning and construction involving more than 200 architects, engineers and designers, and 400 construction workers.
The large-project construction incorporated 2,500 tons of concrete, 375 tons of steel and 15 miles of electrical conduit. Eighteen 95-foot-long micropiles were driven into the lake’s bedrock below Navy Pier to support the additional weight of the new structure.
The space, formerly the underutilized Skyline Stage, introduces a new trend in theatrical architecture by combining adaptive reuse with innovation in flexible design transforming what was once only a seasonal open air space into a fully enclosed, year-round indoor theater constructed below the iconic white tent.
The Yard features nine audience seating towers–each the size of a London double-decker bus, stood upright–which can be rearranged in a wide array of configurations, with audience capacities ranging from 150 to 850.
The new 33,000 square-foot expansion connects to CST’s other two theaters–the 500-seat Courtyard Theater and 200-seat theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare–through a spectacular, two-level glass lobby connected to the existing building.
First up at The Yard is their inaugural performance of James Thierrée’s The Toad Knew opening on September 19 (through September 23).
Cirque nouveau superstar James Thierrée’s The Toad Knew will debut The Yard’s largest proscenium configuration. Nine tri-level seating towers have been configured in a horseshoe shape that together with main floor seating will accommodate nearly 850 audience members and offer the best sightlines for this large-scale theatrical spectacle that intertwines dreams with childhood terrors, burlesque, and realism to explore the wild, wondrous love shared among sibling, a collective of dancers, high-wire artists, and musicians.
Highlighting the versatility of the dynamic new venue, each production in The Yard in the 2017/18 Season will feature a unique configuration that is especially suited to the needs of the artists and audiences.
The team behind The Yard
The team behind the forward-thinking design includes: top Chicago-based firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), winner of the 2015 American Architecture award and designers of the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, (soon-to-be the tallest building in the world)–along with award-winning, UK-based theater consultancy firm Charcoalblue, whose projects include venues for the Royal Shakespeare Company in collaboration with CST Executive Director Criss Henderson.
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Filed under: Theater in Chicago