Auditorium Design – The British International School of Chicago, South Loop

We installed and provided a stunning gymnasium/auditorium design for this wonderful institution. It was a fun break from audio visual classroom installation for us! 


About The British International School of Chicago, South Loop

SPL was excited to collaborate with The British International School of Chicago, South Loop.  We were proud to bring our AV integration expertise for their retrofitted gymnasium and auditorium design.  BISC-SL is a private international school located in the South Loop area of Chicago. BISC-SL offers education for ages 3 to 18 (UK Nursery to Year 13/US Pre-K to Grade 12). One in three Nord Anglia graduates in 2015 were accepted to one of the top 100 universities in the world as ranked by the QS World University Rankings.

The school, then British School of Chicago, was founded in 2001. Located in the Andersonville neighborhood, the school opened with 14 students ages 3–5. In 2008, with 350 students across all 15 grades, the school relocated to a new building in the Lincoln Park neighborhood which is now the current site of British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park. In 2015, British International School of Chicago expanded to a second campus in the South Loop neighborhood.

For this gymnasium and auditorium design and AV installation, SPL was brought on as a consultant and installer for AV related space utilization and installation.


The Challenge

When the school was being constructed the original budget and space to have a full auditorium was cut. The budget and space cuts meant that their gymnasium would need to be retrofitted to function as an auditorium. This is difficult as the space was not originally intended for full productions or performances.

The inherent features of a gymnasium cause many barriers for a successful performance space. The elevated ceiling means your PA needs to be more comprehensive, both in power and in the number of speakers. It also means lighting must provide higher lumens and utilize specialized lenses to compensate for the longer throw distances. Another limitation is the lack of a “front of house” booth for AV equipment to live while a show is going on. We couldn’t have an audio console next to where kids are playing sports and risk damage to the equipment.   

Beyond those spacial limitations there is also the matter of safety and proper installation. With a shared gymnasium/auditorium space for kids, staff, and families, we had to be absolutely sure of our hang points and gear integrity.

SPL reveled in the challenges of this gymnasium turned auditorium AV installation, read on to learn what we did to deliver the perfect solution for BISC-SL.

Our Solution

We provided many different solutions across the spectrum for this project. From Symetrix processing, Yamaha and Shure consoles/mics, ETC ColorSource LED fixtures, and Dante networking, this is now a pro-level performance space. 

For audio – with over two dozen speakers deployed around the gymnasium, we made sure coverage would never be an issue. We hung units pointing directly downward across the space as well as a Danley center cluster aimed squarely at the audience area. Each speaker is completely controllable and zoned. This flexibility allows the sound engineer to target different areas of the space to maximize coverage of any audience setup.

The audio system can switch easily from playing music during gym classes, to a world-class performance audio system. With the targeted audience audio coverage, we gave the sound engineer the ability to create an intimate sounding performance atmosphere.

For lighting – we hung an ETC ceiling solution to hang from the existing hang points in the ceiling. This allowed for safe and secure fixture hanging as well as optimal lighting angles for any show format. We went with full color LED fixtures for energy efficiency, bulb life, and creative control. The lighting designer is able to control every fixture individually. 

We created a system and instructions for easy use for production staff as well as school staff. The entire system can be controlled either from wall panels around the space, a large touchscreen tablet installed in an office, or by connecting a mobile console rack into any network jack around the space

The Results

This was so much more than just some lights and speakers in a gym. This became a full-blown auditorium design and AV installation. The solutions we provided for this amazing client have provided unparalleled multi-use versatility for their space.

They now have one of the most production-ready school gymnasiums in the country. From school assemblies, staff meetings, music filled gym classes, school dances, to private events, this gymnasium/auditorium design and AV installation will provide dynamic lighting and sound for years to come.


Our Integration Partners

Client Testimonial

British International School of Chicago, South Loop

“Once a sound system is purchased, often companies mysteriously are unavailable for queries, after sales support, etc. Not only are you always on the end of a phone, you always have a quick solution and have offered a friendly, professional service throughout our dealings.”

James Farquhar

British International School of Chicago, South Loop

AV Installer

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“Our goal was to make it not a gym,” says owner Matt Gajowniczek. “With the variety of performances from concerts to convocations, athletic events to assemblies, we needed to cover the range of performances the system required.” Utilizing a dozen RCF C3110-96 speakers down-fired from the roof joists they were able to zone the system into a number of configurations dependent on event and seating layout. 

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Gymnasium and An Auditorium Design

Retrofitting exisiting spaces is always challenging. We faced many different challenges from acoustics to ambient light issues on this project.   

With our theatrical production experience and acoustics expertise, we provided a perfect fusion between gymnasium and auditorium AV installation. Contact us today for an AV consultation on your next audio visual classroom or auditorium construction project.

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