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Auditorium Building and Theatre

Photo credit: Alan Brunettin
The Auditorium Building Photo credit: Alan Brunettin
Photo credit: Roosevelt University Archive
A masterpiece of both acoustics and architecture: the Auditorium Theatre. Photo credit: Roosevelt University Archive

When it opened in 1889, the Auditorium Building, with 400 hotel rooms, a 4,300-square-foot performance hall, and office and commercial space, was big news.  Not only was it a major commercial and civic destination;  its modern design and graceful proportions established Louis Sullivan and his partner, Dankmar Adler, at the forefront of American architects.  

The Auditorium’s Romanesque façade elegantly expressed the building’s structure, with a massive, rustic granite base and smooth limestone above.  Inside, the gorgeously ornamented performance hall was both an acoustic and artistic achievement.  Adler was known for his acoustical engineering expertise, and the space housed the Chicago Symphony when it opened.  

Today the building is owned by Roosevelt University, which restored the theater in the 1960s. University classes and national touring music and theatrical productions still draw the public to this masterpiece of American architecture.