DePaul University New Theatre School Building in Chicago, Illinois.

DePaul University New Theatre School Building



Since 1925, The Theatre School at DePaul University has been dedicated to providing top-tier instruction and guidance to individuals seeking careers in professional theater. Bolstering its reputation for distinguished teaching, the University constructed a new 169,000-gross-square-foot building to house The Theatre School.

Thornton Tomasetti provided structural engineering for the five-story performing arts building, composed of steel and reinforced concrete. The structure includes a 250-seat thrust theater, a 100-seat flexible theater, rehearsal space, scenery and costume shop areas, classrooms and administrative offices. Outdoor terraces at the upper floors contribute to the building’s LEED certification and give students and faculty respite from the surrounding urban environment.

The design team tackled various challenges – including the modest size of the site and the stringent zoning requirements of the historic Lincoln Park neighborhood – throughout the development of the building’s design. Limited to a footprint of 280 feet by 120 feet, available floor area is at a premium. The building’s northeast corner, which gradually steps out beyond the building’s base, serves as a dramatic western gateway to DePaul’s campus and provides additional programmable space by increasing the floor area at each level. Support for the signature corner is provided by cantilevers that, with each step of the terrace, extend in length beyond the cantilever at the floor below.

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