2022 CID Awards Special Recognition Spotlight: Innovative Use of Tile

Steppenwolf Theater

At Coverings 2022, the CID Awards honored outstanding Special Recognition projects that demonstrated spectacular craftsmanship and creativity in the use of tile & stone. This week we’re putting the spotlight on a project recognized for their innovative use of tile.

Special Recognition: Innovative Use of Tile
Steppenwolf Theater
Cooperativa Ceramica d’Imola North America
Chicago, IL

The Steppenwolf Theatre Expansion provides a multi-purpose cultural hub for Chicago and for Steppenwolf’s neighborhood in Lincoln Park and represents a new space for creativity and exchange in the very first theatre-in the round format built in Chicago. At the city level, it was important to be inclusive to the diverse, multicultural Chicago communities that Steppenwolf serves. At the neighborhood level, it was important for the architecture to respond to the context of the urban fabric, and for the theater to be transparent in its function to invite participation from the people who live, work, and visit the neighborhood into the Steppenwolf Campus.

Tony Fitzpatrick, a local artist from Chicago, was asked to realize a mural on the side of the main entrance. The architect recommended that the mural should be treated similarly to a piece of art, rather than street art which is more temporal in nature. Initially the concept was to have the artist simply paint on the existing parking garage; however, the porcelain rain screen system solution using screen print technology beautifully translated the artists artwork onto the porcelain tile that would allow this unique art live Steppenwolf years to come. The rain screen system elegantly accomplishes a canvas and frame aesthetic through the precise detailing.

The large format 4’x4’ porcelain tiles compose the overall modulation of the mural, spaced ¼” to allow ventilation (depth of system, from wall to external surface of the tile = 3.5″). The grid system attachments to the existing parking garage are all concealed behind the frame that wraps all sides of the screen system. The subframe structure currently holding the tiles could be potentially dismounted in the future, so that the art could be displayed anywhere else if wanted to.

Do you have a recently completed project that features innovative design and installation of tile & stone? Consider entering it to the 2023 CID Awards – the submission portal will open this fall.