• Steppenwolf, Chicago
  • Exterior at dusk (image credit: Steppenwolf)

...two new theatres for a world-class theatre ensemble

Steppenwolf, Chicago


Project summary


Steppenwolf Theatre Company began in 1974, out of the storefront theatre tradition in Chicago. The company was itinerant until the early 1990’s, when it built its signature 520-seat theatre. Responding to an expanded audience, two new smaller venues were carved out of existing and adjacent spaces. Now, driven by mantra of ‘audience engagement’, the company is embarking upon a project to add expanded front-of-house spaces, a new theatre and renovating an existing ‘Downstairs’ theatre. Charcoalblue designed the new experimental studio space at 1700 North Halstead and is currently developing the concepts for the new theatre – from seat-count, to room form, to technical capability, and acoustics. Another part of the scheme will be to update the technical facilities in the existing proscenium house.


The Steppenwolf company is ensemble-led, including notable stage and screen actors and directors. Charcoalblue has workshopped the designs with the ensemble and technical staff, adjusting the scheme and building consensus with the large – and opinionated – group of stakeholders.


Charcoalblue are collaborating on the project with architects Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill. Steppenwolf aims to complete a refurbishment of the existing theatre and to open the new building by 2020.