Diane and David B Heller Auditorium, Francis W. Parker School

Interior Architecture Award Submission

This project was the capstone of a long-term expansion and renovation of the Parker campus. The original 1960’s auditorium provided seating for 640. As the school grew, limited seating restricted its philosophy of providing a vital gathering space for all students, faculty and staff, and parents. Increased seating capacity was necessary to include the entire school community while maintaining the auditorium as the heart of the school’s collaborative and experiential curriculum.

The limitations of the existing space called for raising the existing roof structure to accommodate a new balcony, which was a design challenge since the eighteen-month construction would coincide with normal school operations. Through collaboration of the school, design team, and contractor, construction was designed and organized around the school schedule.

The flexible auditorium accommodates all types of performance – retractable seating onstage allows for all-school assembly, proscenium/orchestral performances, or the more intimate theater-in-the-round. Moveable acoustic towers and adjustable acoustic panels are also adaptable.

This central gathering place provides not only Parker, but the neighborhood community, with the opportunity to showcase the works, performances, and productions of students, faculty, and staff; of invited artists, civic leaders, and renowned lecturers; and of outside organizations, festivals, and special events.

Nagle Hartray Architecture
Associate Architect
Morris Architects Planners
  • Schuler Shook
  • Talaske
  • WMA Consulting Engineers, Ltd.
General contractor
Berglund Construction Company
Chicago, Illinois