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The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance

HBRA Architects


Millennium Park


The Harris Foundation


  • General Contractor: Clark Construction Group, LLC
  • Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
  • Environmental Systems Design, Inc
  • Jaffe Holden

Project Status


Year Completed




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Project Description


Located in Chicago’s Millennium Park, a hall of 1500 seats for live performance serves a collection of mid-size music, dance, performance art, and opera companies. A historic parks ordinance required that the majority of the theater be below grade, exposing only the entry pavilion at park level, creating green space on the roof.

Multiple levels of stacked lobbies, embellished with colored florescent light fixtures connect upper and lower entrances. These lobbies create a diversity of atmospheres for the public spaces with an economy of means, additionally allowing for user orientation.

In the auditorium, pre-cast concrete panels and structural elements form the architectural expression with wooden acoustic wall reflectors framing the proscenium. Adjustable acoustics, orchestra pit, and traps provide flexibility for a variety of configurations.

Responding to the theater’s popularity and changing use patterns, we have been commissioned to design expanded patron areas and additional vertical circulation elements to serve a newer, below-grade pedway. This AIA award-winning theater has been credited for its contribution to the performing arts renaissance in Chicago, and has been praised for its architecture, acoustics, and sightlines.  Within its ten years of existence, the Harris has established a permanent foothold in Chicago’s cultural and architectural landscape.

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