Francis W. Parker School
Heller Auditorium
With the construction of a new balcony to the existing auditorium, seating increased from 600 to 1,100.
  • Project Type
    • Building
  • Status
  • Delivery Method
    • Construction Management At-Risk
  • Services
  • Location
    • 330 W Webster Ave
      Chicago, IL 60614
  • Duration
    • 11 Months
  • Size
    • 62,000 sqft
  • Architect
    • Morris Architects Planners

Project Overview

For 20 years, Berglund has been the exclusive contractor working with Francis W. Parker School, a private K-12 school. The philosophy behind the school is based on progressive education emphasizing community and citizenship. Francis W. Parker was a founding believer of liberal arts and was against standardization. Berglund was focused on carrying out his mission. Projects included the North Wing addition with an art department and auditorium, the new science wing, the athletic field and cafeteria renovation. Berglund was brought on early to work closely with the architect and has provided preconstruction and construction services for the expansion and renovation of the school’s urban site and totaling in more than $75 million. 

Approach

The heart of the North Wing renovation was the auditorium, a very significant upgrade to the Performing Arts Department. Although the primary goal of this project was to increase the seating capacity of the school’s existing auditorium to allow the full student body to assemble in one space, the achievement was much more than that.

Logistics were everything in this project. The site is a dense closed area that required a unique solution. Berglund raised the roof structure eight feet and added a balcony and reconfigurable seating on-stage, inserting a 400 seat mezzanine level to bring capacity from 600 to 1,100.  Berglund performed vertically and the school remained operational during the entirety of the project. A state-of the-art studio and sound system were installed. After completion, singer Sheryl Crow performed a private concert and said that because of the adaptability of the acoustics in the auditorium, the sound was “unreal.” 

The new auditorium also boasts several video screens, adjustable acoustics and movable proscenium partitions that allow the space to be reconfigured for music performance, theatrical productions, school assemblies and lectures.

Outcomes

Berglund successfully completed these Francis W. Parker School projects which increased the school's property line to the north and included renovation of the existing classrooms, shops and drama department. The Heller Auditorium project scope was the construction of a new balcony to the existing auditorium. To provide adequate height for the balcony addition, the existing auditorium roof needed to be raised approximately eight feet. Berglund scheduled the steel erection work for the summer, allowing minimal disruption to the school student faculty body.

Photos ©Hedrich Blessing