A group of people walking outside of a building. A building with a curved roof and wooden slats The Black Ensemble Theater dual level street entrance The Black Ensemble Theater street entrance and cafe A group of people walking on a street between buildings at night The street view of the Black Ensemble Theater
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Black Ensemble Theater

Chicago, Illinois

Founded in 1976 by actress and playwright Jackie Taylor as a small community arts organization, The Black Ensemble Theater’s mission is to eradicate racism and its damaging effects upon our society through theater arts. To support the arts and culture organization’s mission, Gensler is teaming up with Nia Architects and Site Design Group to create the first-of-its-kind, culturally diverse, artist-centric live and work village, centered around performance art and affordable housing for the creative class.

The Black Ensemble Theatre will expand the mixed-use campus to create a new cultural corridor in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. The cultural destination’s design features a two-structure complex that is anchored by a new educational and performance center as well as new residences. This center features a media center, performance hall, educational rooms, cafe, film screening room, editing station, recording studio, dance studio, and archives. Clad in a multi-color panel facade, a six-story building offers 50 affordable residential units with one- and two-bedroom layouts, designed for artists in the community.