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Music/Communication Building Construction to Begin

New building to bring Music programs together, add space for Communication

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January 19, 2012 | by Alan K. Cubbage
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Construction of a building on the lakefront of Northwestern University’s Evanston campus that will be the new home of the Bienen School of Music and provide additional space for the School of Communication will begin this spring, University officials announced today (Jan. 20). Designed to be a signature building for the University, the new facility will enable the Bienen School to consolidate all of its programs in one campus location for the first time in more than 35 years.

The new building will be located just south of the school’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall and connected to the Regenstein Hall of Music on the southern end of Northwestern’s lakefront campus. The five-story structure will be directly east of the Theatre and Interpretation Center with spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

With approximately 150,000 gross square feet, the new building will include classrooms, teaching labs, academic faculty offices, teaching studios for choral, jazz, opera, piano and voice faculty, practice rooms, student lounges and administrative offices. There also will be a choral rehearsal/recital room, choral and orchestra libraries, an opera rehearsal/black box theater and a 400-seat recital hall.

Estimated cost for the new facility and an adjacent arts green is $117 million. Construction is expected to begin in May and take approximately three years to complete with move-in expected in fall 2015. Architect for the building is Goettsch Partners, Inc. of Chicago.

School of Music Dean Toni-Marie Montgomery said, “I express my appreciation to President Emeritus Henry Bienen for giving the initial approval for the building, President Morton Schapiro for embracing this project and providing the support to make this a reality, Provost Daniel Linzer, and the trustees and other donors who have contributed financially to the project. 

“The building symbolizes many things -- the excellence of the Bienen School of Music and its students, faculty and alumni, and the university’s significant investment in the arts. I am thrilled that construction will begin this spring and I look forward to moving into the Bienen School’s new home,” she said.

In addition, the fifth floor of the new building will provide a new south campus home for the School of Communication administration, including the dean’s office and additional offices for faculty members. Space in the new building will enable the School to bring together on one floor the faculty in the Department of Theatre and in the Department of Performance Studies, and to have them in the same building with colleagues in the School of Music, thereby creating more opportunities for collaboration in the performing arts.

“We’re looking forward to joining the Bienen School in this wonderful new building,” said Barbara O’Keefe, dean of the School of Communication. “This also will enable us to create additional classroom, laboratory and performance spaces in the school’s other buildings.”

The project also will include a new Music and Arts Green to the west of the building that will provide a 120-foot wide pedestrian-friendly green space. This dramatic new gateway to the new building and the fine arts area will provide a major open space amenity that can become a focal point for special events and passive recreation. The green space will improve pedestrian safety and circulation significantly while still allowing vehicular access to the current buildings. The outstanding views of the lake and Chicago from that area will be enhanced.