Tech West Entrance Plaza Reconstruction

Project Status: COMPLETED

Completed: December 2008

Project Description & Statistics

The Technological Institute Main Entrance Plaza provides a front door to both the McCormick School of Engineering as well as many of the sciences in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.  The entrance plaza provides a subtle change in elevation from the sidewalk to the elevated 1st floor entrance and originally was conceived as an elegant progression through a series of gentle steps that at first separate the pedestrian from the sidewalk at a low plaza and then through several other stairs and plazas culminating at the front entrance doors which are flanked by allegorical bas-reliefs by sculptor Edgar Miller depicting man's ongoing efforts to conquer nature.

During the 1970's the original entrance plaza was paved over to create a continuous sloped plaza from Sheridan Rd. to the main entrance.  At that time, the existing bridges, stairs and foundation walls were simply covered over by dirt to create a new base for the brick and precast pavers.  The resultant condition at the bridges which span the moats at the building entrances caused severe deterioration of the structure.  During summer 2007, the structure of the bridges was replaced.  In addition, the moat walls were tuck-pointed and repaired.  Temporary paving at the entrance bridges and stairs was installed until funding was made available to reconstruction the entire plaza.

The plaza paving was in deteriorated condition and required replacement.  In addition, the plaza lighting levels were in need of improvement.  The reconstruction project will improve conditions at the Tech entrance plaza, remove the bike parking from the plaza and provide alternate means for students to post flyers on kiosks.  The project will also improve accessibility, provide improved areas for social interactions and a greater sensitivity to the original building architecture.

The construction logistics present a challenge since three major building exits are located on the plaza.  During the reconstruction we will maintain approximately half of the entrance doors available for exiting at all times.  The attached drawings illustrate the various construction phases for the project.

Project Team

Project Management

Ron Nayler, Associate Vice President for Facilities
Bonnie Humphrey, Director of Facilities Design and Construction
Kory Burton, Project Manager
Mary Fitzsimmons DeRuntz, Project Consultant


Hitchcock Design Group

General Contractor

Raffin Construction

Contact Information

All questions or complaints should be directed to:

Kory Burton, Project Manager
Northwestern University
Facilities Design & Construction
2020 Ridge Avenue, Suite 250
Evanston, IL 60208
Phone: 847-491-3677
Fax: 847-491-3869

Awards & Certification

The Tech West Entrance Plaza Reconstruction project received a 2010 Design Evanston award in the Landscape Design category.

"New stone garden walls and rectilinear geometry connects the new entry plaza physically and visually to the historic building. Dark brick pavement seems like a new material for the Northwestern campus, but does help to warm up the space and make it more user-friendly."

Founded in 1980, Design Evanston is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit advocacy organization promoting good design in Evanston, Illinois.

Additional Documents

Tech Plaza Phasing Plans