The lyric opera of chicago
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Project Team

Architect
Studio Gang Architects

Structural Engineer
Thornton Tomasetti

Fabricator
Ravenswood Scenic Studios

Nearing its 60th anniversary, the Lyric commissioned Studio Gang Architects to design an orchestra shell showcasing both its orchestra and its future. Concerts by the orchestra and recitals by musical luminaries are a growing portion of the Lyric's programming, so the timing was perfect.

Appreciating the sculpture of music instruments but not mimicking them, the shell departs from literal interpretations and imparts a logic of its own, exaggerating its curves where diffusion is useful and calming them where gentler forms are needed to convey strength and detail out to the audience and back to the musicians. The shaping is rendered in oak-veneered plywood only a half-inch thick, stiffening with plywood gussets tied back to a steel frame, leveraging every bit of the structure to serve the acoustic goals, a remarkable contrast to the norms of orchestra shell design.