The Writers Theatre in Glencoe

Tucked in the vibrant downtown of the Glencoe community — just down the road from Optima Verdana®, stands the Writers Theatre, a monument to the creative spirit and architectural prowess. A testament to the convergence of the arts, architecture, and community, the Writers Theatre is a touchstone of cultural life across the North Shore. At Optima®, we share a deep appreciation for such special places that elevate design and aesthetic experiences while enriching the community.

Conceived in 1992, the Writers Theatre was designed to celebrate the raw power and intimacy of the written word. It is a professional theater company that, since its inception, has nurtured a strong commitment to the appreciation of intricate writing and profound performances. This dedication has earned the theatre numerous awards, including the 2016 Regional Theatre Tony Award and being called “America’s finest regional theater company” by The Wall Street Journal.

The current structure, designed by the internationally acclaimed architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, was unveiled in 2016, offering a splendid canvas for the theatre’s vision — to be a socially vibrant venue that redefines the audience-performer interaction. And Gang’s design does just that, by providing a sense of inclusion and participation that blurs the lines between the stage and the audience.

The Writers Theatre’s Alexandra C. & John D. Nichols stage

As you step inside, you’ll notice the theatre houses two stages. The primary Alexandra C. & John D. Nichols stage, accommodating 250 people, captures the essence of a traditional theatre, while the secondary Gillian theatre, a more intimate space, caters to 99 patrons, making each performance a personal experience. Architecturally, the building’s wood truss system is both aesthetically striking and acoustically vital, further enhancing the audience’s experience.

A rooftop pavilion and patrons’ lounge are not just architectural details but social spaces. In essence, the Writers Theatre transcends the function of a theatre, transforming into a hub for community activities and social interaction.

The Writer’s Theatre’s patrons lounge and pavilion, Courtesy of Steve Hall and Hedrich Blessing

Looking into the Writers Theatre’s story, we see an embodiment of Optima®’s values— the fusion of beautiful design, functional spaces, and community enrichment. We take great pride and joy in showcasing gems like the Writers Theatre, a testament to what can be achieved when creative storytelling meets architectural brilliance.

As we celebrate the Writers Theatre and its remarkable journey, we’re reminded of the importance of places that are not just seen, but felt. Spaces that invite you in, captivate your senses, and leave an enduring impression. And at Optima®, we remain committed to creating and appreciating spaces that, like the Writers Theatre, stand as enduring testaments to design, culture, and community. Explore some of their upcoming events and shows here!

Celebrating World Architecture Day

Since 1996, the first Monday of October has been reserved for celebrating the practice and artistry of architecture. First established at the International Union of Architects Congress held in Barcelona, Spain, World Architecture Day marks a time to reflect on the potential of architecture; how it affects people, cities and societies. 

As part of our commitment to lasting impact, we don’t take this responsibility lightly. We truly believe architecture has the potential to change lives and we’re constantly inspired by the past, present and future of the industry. This year, the International Union of Architects (UIA) — representing the world’s 3.2 million architects — dubbed the theme of World Architecture Day 2020 as “Toward a better urban future.” Panelists on a global webinar will discuss challenges facing today’s cities such as housing, air quality and public spaces. Through coming together to solve these problems, we can enhance the human experience across the world. 

Optima team participating in the marshmallow challenge
World Architecture Day 2019 at the Glencoe Office

Although we take this day for reflection and contribution to the architecture world, we also love getting our team involved in celebrating. Last year, some of our Chicago office competed in the marshmallow challenge to put their architecture skills to the ultimate test. From architects to accountants to property managers, our staff raced to see who could build the tallest tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows. Luckily, the architects proved their expertise, coming in at first place — but accountants followed closely in second place! This year, we’ll be celebrating individually while working from home. 

From all of us to our fellow architects, Happy World Architecture Day! 

Giving Back: Feed My Starving Children

As part of our commitment to building strong communities, we often turn our efforts outward and partner with local businesses and nonprofits that share our beliefs and passions. Recently, our teams in Arizona and Illinois both rallied and collaboratively supported a cause together, volunteering with Feed My Starving Children. 

Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) is a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating child hunger in both body and spirit. Their organization believes that hope starts with food, and coordinates with food distribution partners that stay with communities for the long haul, empowering them to move from relief to development. By providing proper nourishment and nutrition to children in need, FMSC is unlocking their full potential, helping children grow and thrive. 

On Thursday, February 13, thirteen Optima team members from offices in Arizona and Illinois volunteered at their respective locations. Over the course of the day, we assembled food donations and packed 164 boxes bound for communities in need, providing 35,424 meals. These meals will be enough to feed 96 children for an entire year. In addition to dedicating our time, our team made a donation that will feed three families for one year.

Our team members cherished the experience. Heather Williams, Community Manager at Optima Kierland Center in Arizona said, “Volunteering with Feed My Starving Children was an eye-opening experience. It’s heartbreaking to think about the number of children and adults that face starvation as a reality. The work this organization is doing to help feed families across the globe is inspiring and I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute in a small way.”

Tarryn deKock from the People Experience team in Glencoe agreed, “It was such a rewarding, fun, feel good day spent with my team members, giving back to those less fortunate. I felt so grateful for what we have and how lucky we are!”

To learn more about Feed My Starving Children and how you can help end childhood hunger, visit their website here

Giving Back: Cleaning Up Skokie Lagoons

As part of our commitment to the built and natural environments, our team regularly organizes outings that give back to the community. Not only do these opportunities allow us to create meaningful impact, but they serve as team-building and bonding exercises, as well. Most recently, we took a trip out to local Skokie Lagoons to help keep the area clean. 

Skokie Lagoons are just a short drive from our Glencoe office. An 894-acre destination, the lagoons are the premier spot for both people and wildlife, offering critical natural habitats and the chance for visitors to appreciate the outdoors through canoe and kayak rentals, biking and hiking trails and picnic areas.

The Optima team at Skokie Lagoons

To help restore the area with healthy woodland, savanna and prairie habitats, Skokie Lagoons relies upon volunteers to regularly remove invasive plants such as buckthorn, garlic mustard and Canada thistle.

Cleaning up Skokie Lagoons

Working with the Cook County Forest Preserve, our team joined the Shedd Aquarium for a Great Lakes Action Day to help restore the local habitat and encourage amphibians and other wildlife to thrive. We cut and burned the thick and concentrated invasive buckhorn brush to make room for native flora and fauna.

To learn more about the Skokie Lagoons and how you can support wildlife restoration, visit their website.

Neighborhood Spotlights: The Chicago Botanic Garden

It’s no secret that we love the outdoors at Optima. That’s why we are thrilled that our Glencoe office is less than a five-minute drive from the Chicago Botanic Garden, where we’re able to find inspiration and beauty in astounding acres of natural plantlife. To encourage these meditative visits, we have passes for our team to allow them to take a stroll through the gardens for a break and even a lunchtime picnic. 

Open for nearly fifty years, the Chicago Botanic Garden features 27 gardens and four natural areas, sprawling across 385 acres, complete with nine islands and six miles of lake shoreline. With over 2.5 million species of plants, the Garden is a hub drawing people in from all over to visit and learn about horticulture, conservation and sustainability in a beautiful setting. 

Chicago Botanic Garden
The Japanese Gardens on an island at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Credit: Luiz Gadelha Jr. on Flickr Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0 Deed.

Year-round, the Chicago Botanic Garden features a garden set into the stones and terraces beneath a cascading waterfall, hidden rooms within their English Walled Garden, a Japanese Garden that’s the perfect place to find a mindful moment and a secret land filled with model trains traversing across bridges and trestles. We are always thrilled to visit their meticulously cared-for collection of hundreds-of-years-old bonsai trees, or to have a drink or bite to eat at the Garden View Cafe overlooking a peaceful pond.

Right now, the Garden is also hosting Lightscape, an enchanting and exclusive U.S. experience. The exhibition brings a mile of immersive ribbons of light, a garden of fragrant fire, a sparkling tunnel and more to an already breathtaking landscape. Also on display, The Orchid Show features 10,000 brilliant blooms in unexpected ways.  

Whether it’s for a breath of fresh air during a daytime walk or to have a picturesque lunch, we are lucky to have our offices so close to this neighborhood gem. 


person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL

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