Members of the Tony Award-winning Steppenwolf Theatre Company view their new $8.28 million home as both a dreamhouse and a challenge.

"This lifts the limits on our artistic imaginations," said Randall Arney, Steppenwolf's artistic director and a member of the acting ensemble.After years of performing out of makeshift facilities, and gaining two Tony awards in the process, the Chicago-based ensemble has had a theater constructed to its own specifications.

The main theater was unveiled last month at a black-tie benefit as the company celebrated its 15th season with the American premiere of "Another Time," a 1989 play by Britain's Ronald Harwood.

"It's the first time the company's owned its own home," said Bruce Sagan, president of the company's board of directors. "It's lived in a church basement and a converted dairy truck building and it's rented space at other theaters."

After the theater complex' elegant facade and lobby, the rough concrete walls and exposed ironwork of the main auditorium come as a bit of a jolt, giving it a Chicago "alley look."

The main theater features 350 seats on the main floor and 150 balcony and box seats. The three-story complex includes rehearsal rooms, costume and production shops and a 100-seat experimental theater that remains under construction.

The 23-member Steppenwolf company received the 1985 Tony Award for Regional Theater. Last year, the company received the New York Tony for Best Play for its production of "The Grapes of Wrath." The Chicagoan who crafted that production, Frank Galati, also won a Tony as Best Director.