The theater is named for its primary benefactors, Joan and Irving Harris, who gave a gift of $15 million gift ($18.1 million in current dollars) and a $24 million ($29 million) construction loan to the Music and Dance Theater Chicago; this was believed to be largest single monetary commitment ever to a performing arts organization in Chicago. The Harrises had a long history of philanthropy benefitting the arts.
The Harris Theater was designed by Thomas Beeby of Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects; his previous work in Chicago includes the Harold Washington Library Center and the Art Institute of Chicago Building's Rice Wing. Thornton Tomasetti was the structural engineer. The building is located on ground leased from the City of Chicago, and cost $52.7 million ($62.3 million in current dollars). Construction began on February 1, 2002, and the theater opened for use on November 8, 2003.
truss display for trade shows