Lake Forest, IL, 2018
Howard Van Doren Shaw’s historic design created not one, but two rings - one for the audience, and one for the stage. Our design collapses the two rings to create a single enclosure for the theater and audience. The form of a single ring increases the opportunities for theatrical expression with a variety of stage types that encourages multi-form performances, with elements that allow the ring to be used for proscenium, thrust, traverse, theater-in-the-round, or free-form configurations.
Inspired by the history of using lanterns to illuminate the ring, Lantern is enclosed with a translucent material that will be lit at night with solar-lights, ensconcing the audience and stage in a soft, glowing light reminiscent of the Japanese lanterns that once hung in the historic ring. During the day, the cladding of ring will be animated by the passage of time throughout the day, as changing light and sun orientations will result in different effects of light, shadow, and luminosity.
The luminous enclosure creates a new, circular horizon that frames the sky, while the open stages’ backdrops are oriented to different views within the site: to the Prairie, the treeline, and Ragdale house: endless natural entertainment during intermissions in theatrical activity.
The Lantern is framed with lightweight, common pine structural lumber clad in a white, translucent polythene tarp. Forty-eight truss-columns are connected by continuous cross bracing to resist wind loads, and the stage openings are framed by larger wooden headers. Two solar-charged lanterns are suspended within each frame to illuminate the structure at night.