Interior alterations to an existing commercial lobby at 190 S LaSalle Street, a 40-story office building owned by Beacon Capital Partners located in Chicago’s prominent financial district. An amphitheater provides seating but also performs like a brass instrument. The building was originally designed by John Burgee with Philip Johnson in 1987 and while its form and finish are illustrative of a classical revivalism, the interior poses a complex acoustical challenge. The ceilings are fifty feet tall and vaulted. The amount of reverberation in the space makes it impossible to understand what someone is saying to you when only standing seven feet away. At the north end of the lobby is a bronze sculpture, Fugue, by Anthony Caro that was originally designed for the space. The new amphitheater mirrors the sculpture’s purely instrumental metaphor with an actual instrument on the south—a semi-circular shape that will allow seated visitors to experience brass sounds responsively. The amphitheater’s sound is composed of multiple brass instruments and programmed to automatically generate elements from those sounds according to changes in weather, time of day, and day of week. The amphitheater is an instrument posing as a speaker with its risers clad with finely perforated brass panels and backed with an absorbent filler. The amphitheater’s interior holds 91 speakers with light sensors that tune the sound so that it minimizes noise pollution and maximizes the sound quality around a listener’s sphere of audibility. 



Beacon Capital Partners


190 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois, USA




1,100 ft² / 100 m²

Project Team

Thomas Kelley, Spencer McNeil, William Stauffer, Andrew Hunt

Consultant Team

Media Architect: iart; Sound Scenographer: Idee und Klang; Structural: Klein & Hoffman; MEP: Kent Consulting Engineers; Permit Expediter: Burnham Nationwide

Construction Team

General Contractor: Erik Gunderson, Power Construction Company


Kendall McCaugherty Ristau (Hall+Merrick+McCaugherty)


Spirit of Space; Click here for a link to the film.