Civic Opera House Renovation

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Built in 1929, the Civic Opera House, home to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, had remained essentially unchanged from its original design. However, the rigorous demands of increasingly sophisticated productions had rendered many features obsolete. SOM’s renovation preserved the theater’s original Art Deco grandeur while adding major structural improvements.

To accommodate modern programming requirements, SOM gutted an adjacent theater and converted it into a rehearsal space and scenery-handling area with a 35-foot door that opens directly onto the Lyric’s stage. SOM restored the opera house’s opulent Art Deco lobby and 3,563-seat auditorium, adding an acoustically sophisticated, state-of-the-art air-handling system. The renovation also included an update of the theater’s street-facing facade, with new marquees, exterior lighting, and signage