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The Harris Theater is a 1,524-seat performing arts facility located along the north edge of Chicago’s Millennium Park. Its indoor performance space complements the outdoor space of the adjacent Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Only the main entry and stage house of the facility extend above ground, with the audience chamber and support spaces buried below a portion of the park known as Upper Randolph Plaza.
Due to the unique construction below grade, much of the “roof” of the theater involves hot-applied waterproofing covered with landscaping or structures related to the plaza. In some cases, as much as 10 feet of fill is present above the waterproofing. This configuration complicated the diagnosis and correction of water leaks that started shortly after occupancy in 2003.
RRJ was retained to act as the Harris Theater’s representative in a joint leakage investigation with the project architect, the general contractor, and Millennium Park officials. The investigation included a review of the original design drawings and specifications, interviews with building occupants regarding the leakage history, and review of construction photographs. Excavations were made through the Millennium Park overburden at several of the more persistent leak areas to expose and document the waterproofing configurations present at interfaces with the adjacent Millennium Park Garage, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, pedestrian bridges to the flanking Exelon Pavilions, and stairs to Upper Randolph Plaza.
RRJ’s findings included both missing and failed waterproofing requiring extensive repair. Acting as the Harris Theater representative, RRJ peer reviewed repair designs prepared by Millennium Park’s consultant and performed regular observations of the repair construction.