Steppenwolf Theater

Project Location: 1650 North Halsted Street, Chicago, Illinois

ESD’s relationship with Chicago’s award-winning theater group began in the early 1990s and continues most recently with the completion of a $54 million theatre campus renovation where ESD provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection (MEP/FP) design and implementation.

At the heart of the project is the 400-seat Ensemble Theatre space that replaces the old Upstairs Theatre which is being reclaimed for rehearsal space. The unique in-the-round seating configuration is only six rows deep and places audience members no more than 20 feet from the stage.

This is the latest of three independent projects executed over the past several years. ESD has played various pivotal roles and provided multiple delivery approaches based on project requirements. Our contributions include designing the substantial renovation of the existing theatre in the early 1990s followed by a bridging package for a design-build approach used for the 2013 repositioning of the neighboring Ethan Allen showroom into a new performing arts and retail center. The renovated Steppenwolf Theatre campus is comprised of three adjacent buildings dominating a block of prime commercial real estate in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on the Near North Side.

Designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the most recent project was completed after several years of development. In addition to the Ensemble Theater, the new facility also includes an outside lounge, a two-story atrium lobby, wine bar, and a teen loft area and is located directly south of the original theatre on Halsted Street.