Jeanne Gang’s impact goes far beyond the Stateline.
“You know, she’s from Belvidere,” said former Rock Valley College director of theatre Mike Webb. “She’s a great visionary.”
The Belvidere native is among TIME magazine’s list of 100 most influential people for 2019 and has been named as the Most Influential Architect. Gang is listed in the “Titans” category, along with people like Mark Zuckerburg and Tiger Woods.
She’s designed buildings all over the world but you can see her work much closer to home.
“She came to Rock Valley with the idea of let’s making something special here,” said Webb.
For many years, Rock Valley College’s Starlight Theatre stage had no roof. Webb drew up a sketch but wanted the roof to be able to open — he just didn’t know how.
Gang made it happen.
“Was one of those things that no one should’ve been able to do, but she was able to do it because she’s such a clearsighted, amazing architect,” said Webb.
Gang has gone off to do amazing projects like the Aqua Tower in downtown Chicago, but Starlight was her first.
“I’m a big fan of nature, I’m a big fan of theatre,” said RVC Starlight Theatre current director Christopher Brady. “The fact that they kind of coalesce here on the Rock Valley College campus, because of Jeanne and Mike, is pretty special.”
Brady says the structure is much more than just a roof to those who call it home.
“I think most of the technicians, actors are here because they love this place. They love this community, they love this theater. This building is a large part of that, obviously.”
Brady says even tours come just to look at the property.
“The most recent one was from Minnesota. But, some architects came out from Minnesota just to look at the building. I think that’s pretty impressive.”
The Starlight building is so unique, it’s been used in architecture textbooks.
Gang’s latest project is also in Chicago, the 101-story Vista Residences, which will be taller than “Aqua”. That’s already one of the top 10 tallest skyscrapers in the city.