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The Yard at Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater underwent extensive renovations to better utilize space at their high-profile tourist destination. What was once an outdoor tent space had been enclosed and conditioned, the stadium seating removed, and floor flattened, so that an innovative, flexible theater space could be installed in its place. The result was a theater experience that could be rearranged in one of 8 different configurations to meet the various needs of the production. The showcase element is 9 four-story seating towers that can be moved and rearranged to encompass the different configurations.


Professional Services

K&H provided the collaboration, design, and construction administration services for the seating towers. The collaboration team involved the architect of record for the shell and core, Adrian Smith Gordon Gill, the engineer of record Thornton Tomasetti, theater consultant Charcoal Blue, contractor Bulley & Andrews, tower architect ICL, and tower fabricator Show Canada. The tower concept was originated by Charcoal Blue, and brought to life through a close collaboration of K&H and Show Canada.

K&H provided the engineering and design services for the movable seating towers. We had to meet many challenges throughout the project – a very specific design aesthetic, limited floor-to-floor heights and floor thicknesses, and an aggressive construction schedule, which would be difficult for any project. However, this also involved collaboration across teams – essentially double the normal in a design project – and the mechanisms for moving and making slight adjustments to a four-story tower within an existing building. K&H had to think creatively and carefully with the project teams every step of the way.

This project was awarded 'Best Project Up to $10 Million' by the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois at the June 2018 Excellence in Engineering Awards.

Photo credit:
© Vito Palmisano
© James Steinkamp Photography


Chicago Navy Pier
Navy Pier, 800 E Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

New Structural Design
Recreational / Entertainment

04/2015 - 10/2017

Homa Ghaemi, SE, PE, Principal
William Ipema, SE, PE, Senior Associate I
Robert Lau, PE, Associate V