The Goodman Theatre

PDF Download: Preservation Chicago’s 2005 Chicago 7 Most Endangered Booklet

The Art Institute of Chicago planned to demolish the former Goodman Theatre on its downtown campus in preparation for construction of the new Modern wing. Citing problems including lack of space and out-of-date heating and cooling systems, the Goodman Theatre built a new theater in the downtown Theatre District, which opened in October of 2000 and the old Goodman remained vacant since that time.

Since the old Goodman Theatre existed primarily underground, Preservation Chicago recommended that an addition be made that preserved the theater, with additional space built above. Furthermore, due to the presence of the Illinois Central tracks running through the site below grade, a large amount of air-rights space was available to the immediate west of the theater. This space could have been leveraged to create new buildable “ground,” with the added benefit of obscuring the unsightly tracks, much as had been done with Millennium Park to the north.

Update:The excitement over the construction of the new Modern Wing by famed architect Renzo Piano eclipsed any sentiment for preserving the old theater.  Furthermore, Preservation Chicago was never able to organize any relevant constituency to oppose its demolition.  The Modern Wing opened in May of 2009 to rave reviews.


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