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Photo/Video Gallery of Updates

To view photos and videos during this renovation, visit our gallery that we will keep updating with our progress!

Black House Renovation Photos and Videos

View the most recent new photo and new video of the progress. (1/24/20)

October 9, 2020 | Update

As is our process, we want to make sure we are keeping our community informed. Since our last update, the following has occurred:
  •  The electrical contractor (Ashburn) began the excavation work for new electrical distribution to the building.
  • The structural support beam has been installed in the basement which allowed for the removal of the scaffolding in the basement. 
  • The Black House Renovation Steering Committee met for the first time this quarter.  The group welcomed three new members,  discussed the project work that has been completed since June 2020 and decided on a monthly meeting cadence through the end of construction.
We continue to work diligently towards the March 2021 completion date.

September 23, 2020 | Update

The renovation of the Black House is ongoing; flattening of the floors on each level of the house as well as work on interior structural reinforcements is scheduled for completion by October 2, 2020. The Black House Renovation Steering Committee begins academic year meetings on October 5, 2020.

September 9 | Update

The Black House Renovation (BH) was paused at the end of March 2020 as a result of COVID-19.  We have worked for several week to remobilize the project and to establish a new construction timeline.  Given the pandemic and industry related delays, the new completion date for the renovation will be March 2021.  We will continue to keep the community updated with information on the progress of the renovation.  We look forward to unveiling and reopening the renovated space this academic year.

This project continues to be a priority for Northwestern and with the BH Renovation Steering Committee’s oversight it continues to steadily move forward.  It is has been and continues to be vital project for our entire university as we continue our work to honor and center Black students within the ethos of the Northwestern community. We look forward to unveiling and reopening the renovated space this academic year. 

June 8, 2020 | Update

The Black House is uniquely important to Northwestern; this importance has been further emphasized in light of the anti-Black racism that has and continues to occur in our communities. With the recent shift to Phase 3 in the State of Illinois and the resulting changes in the University’s policies regarding contractors on campus, senior leadership has approved reactivation of The Black House renovation project.

We will share the new project timeline once our Facilities team has completed the details for the safe restart and completion of the project. We eagerly anticipate the reopening of The Black House. 

February 28, 2020 | Floors

This week GMA has been working on flattening and securing the floors on each level of the Black House. Flattening started on the 1st floor and the work will move up up to the 3rd floor while securing starts on the 3rd floor and will move down the house.

Click here for a photo preview of the progress!

February 17th, 2020 | Elevator in the renovated Black House!

Did you know that the renovated Black House will have an elevator? 

Click here for a photo preview of the progress!

It will allow for the building to be accessible and for the community to easily flow up and down each floor of the house.

This week the foundation for the elevator was poured!

February 5th, 2020 | Meet GMA, the Construction Company for the Black House Renovation

griggs-headshot.jpgCornelius Griggs, a Northwestern University Master of Science in Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) 2014 graduate, founded GMA in 2009.  GMA is fully integrated to provide General Contracting, Construction Management, Design-Build and Cost Engineering services. GMA is licensed, bonded, and insured in the State of Illinois, and is a Minority and Veteran-Owned Small Business with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois with offices in Dallas, Texas and New York, New York.

GMA is committed to developing people that will transform communities. GMA lives its mission through mentorship of its employees as well as providing job and training opportunities for members of the communities in which the firm works. GMA seeks work that improves quality of life for underserved communities, increases operational efficiency for the federal government, and provides sustainability for future generations.

You can learn more about GMA here.

January 24th, 2020 | Winter Update

The project is progressing well.  The end of demolition is in sight and then comes the shoring up and reconstruction. 

View a new photo and a new video of the progress. (1/31/20)

August 6th | Preparing for Construction

On July 29th Multicultural Student Affairs hosted a small gathering to demonstrate appreciation for all who supported the temporary relocation. MSA staff provided coffee, tea and doughnuts, and tours of the new spaces as well. MSA Is looking forward to hosting a welcome back event at the temporary Black House for students at the start of the new academic year.

Construction zoning has begun, and fencing will be placed around the Black House at 1914 Sheridan by early next week.

July 17th | Student Reflection on Temporary Location

“While I’m not very familiar with the sorority quad, I was struck by how nice the temporary space once inside: I appreciate the large gathering area of the first floor and MSA’s floor plan for the space. I like that the first floor has plenty of seats and couches, which I think will create a communal feeling when students return in the fall. I tend to gravitate to large, open areas in the original Black House because I like to use the space as an opportunity to socialize with other students of color. I’m hoping that this translates over to this temporary space.

On the lower level is the spacious TV and lounge room—I can definitely see myself socializing and relaxing there. On the upper-level are the student group offices, fashioned out of dorm rooms, and the computer room at the end of the hall. While the rooms feel petite, they’re still welcoming, and I appreciate that the computer room has all of its computers as a resource for students. As for the feel of BH, I’m really looking forward to when students return and will fill the space with their flyers, posters, artwork, and such that give it the feel of a student-centered space. Right now, I feel it has a ton of potential: it’s nice, clean, and easy to inhabit. I think when students return, it will give the space that homey feel that the Black House is known for.”

Sayeed Sanchez
MSA Summer Intern

July 9th | Packing and Moving

Packing a house is time consuming and stressful, and the unpacking comes after that to make is just so. By now, we are in the new temporary space for the Black House and settling in quite nicely, finishing touches notwithstanding. Because we have had so much terrific help from the university community, the time flew, and the stress was lessened. We will recognize a group of helpful university partners at a small thank you reception to honor their extraordinary work. It would not have gone so smoothly without the cooperation and partnership of the many involved.

Last week and this week, we are working on way-finding and signage for 1856 Orrington, and we are evaluating contracting bids. For the way-finding and signage, we want to make sure that come fall, the space is on campus maps and websites. We want to make sure that signage is clear to find your way to the temporary Black House. As for the bids, we received 4 bids from construction firms, and we are working through those documents to understand which firm will work best for the facility and construction process.

July 2nd | Moving to 1856 Orrington

If you are following along and missed an update from us last week, it’s because we spent last week packing and moving. The Black House has officially temporarily moved to 1856 Orrington! Last week Multicultural Student Affairs worked in partnership with Facilities, The Block, University Archives, Student Affairs Information Technology, Residential Services Operations and Services team, and the Director for Special Projects in Students Affairs to successfully temporarily store artwork, relocate technology, move furniture and prepare the temporary location for MSAs arrival. Whew. Currently, the staff is unpacking and working tirelessly to setup operations including computers, printing, phone lines, and more. Multicultural Student Affairs’ temporary space will be ready to receive the community on July 8th. Please follow MSA on Facebook @Northwestern University Multicultural Student Affairs and Instagram @msaatnu, to view photos and videos of the temporary space.

June 18th | Final Preparations

Both University Archives and The Block Museum have identified the artwork within the Black House, and are working to develop a temporary storage plan for the pieces. Some pieces were selected to temporally relocate to 1856 Orrington, to make the space feel more familiar. 

Student organizations and Multicultural Student Affairs staff have been packing items and submitting materials to the University Archives. MSA is planning to begin relocating on Wednesday, July 27th.

General contractor bids are due this week.

June 11th | Preparing for Temporary Relocation

Last week Multicultural Student Affairs in partnership with students and the Black Host Renovation Steering Committee hosted the “See you later, Black House” week-long series of events. Students recorded videos on their favorite memories in the Black House, wrote letters to next year’s students, and wrote on a banner that will be displayed in the temporary location. 

On Monday, Charla Wilson, the Archivist for the Black Experience at Northwestern University, and Daviree Velazquez Phillip, the Director for Multicultural Student Affairs, identified several pieces of art currently in the Black House that will be displayed in the temporary location of the Black House, 1856 Orrington. The remaining artwork will be stored in the University Archives until the construction project is completed.

General contractor bids are due next week. One of the contractor bids will then be awarded, followed by the construction of the Black House beginning the first week of July. 

June 3rd | "See You Later, Black House" Programming Series

The Black House Renovation Steering Committee & Multicultural Student Affairs are excited to host a week-long programming series titled “See you later, Black House.”

In partnership with students, the Steering Committee and MSA generated a list of events to send the Black House off into its renovation period. Below are the events for this week. Please reach out to MSA at for questions.

You can download and print a copy of a flier of these events here. (PDF)

Finals Wellness with FUBU | Jun 3, 6-8 PM
  • A 90s TV Show Throwback Watch Party with FUBU
When I think of home: reflecting on the Black House with CAPS | Jun 4, 12-2 PM
  • MSA invites you to join Olivia Hoskins from CAPS to talk about memories, hopes, and feelings as we say See You Later, to the Black House. 
Junior and Senior Reception | Jun 5, 5-7 PM
  • The Black graduates of the Class of 2019 and the Class of 2020 are cordially invited to attend an event at the Black House to honor you and to say "See You Later, Black House."  
Black House Family Gathering | Jun 7, 2-6 PM
  • Join us for a family style gathering at the Black House!  The family friendly event will feature food, DJ, games, and giveaways.  Photographer and videographer will be on site to capture your thoughts and memories of the Black House. 

May 28th | Black House Location During Construction

The construction bid process has begun, and our team continues to work with our student, alumni, faculty, and staff communities on a number of issues, including a temporary Black House location. 

 After a thorough vetting process involving students, staff from multiple campus units, and Black House Renovation Steering Committee representatives, we are pleased to confirm that during construction, The Black House will be temporarily located in 1856 Orrington, a small residence hall (designed in a house-like fashion) in the south quadrangle area of housing. This location was selected for a number of reasons, including:
  •  It meets all of the “must haves” for a temporary location, including programming space, hang out space, gender open restrooms, program accessibility, and space for current Black House staff and student organizations. 
  • It includes some additional amenities that will be in the renovated Black House as well, including a pantry space.
  • The location allows The Black House to be more closely connected to the MCC, and is in closer proximity to the current Black House location.
  • Student representatives shared that the space feels “more like a home” and would meet the needs of the Black community well during the renovation.

 Thanks the Black House Renovation Steering Committee; to Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) for their significant work in identifying the must haves for a temporary location, and also connecting student representatives to the project; Mark Francis from the Provost’s Office and Carrie West from Facilities Management for their expertise and counsel, and Residential Services for their assistance and flexibility. Most importantly, we would like to thank ASG representatives, MSA student staff, and FMO representatives who helped make this happen.

May 21st | Bids for Construction

The Black House Renovation Committee is pleased to share facilities updates regarding the project. Currently, construction drawings have been finalized. Construction drawings, also known as plans or blueprints, are the documents used to build out cost estimates for the renovation. 

General contractors have been invited to solicit bids for the various projects a part of the renovation. For the Black House renovation, Northwestern made an intentional effort to reach out to Black owned and operated construction firms to solicit bids for the project. Bids are pricing proposals that construction firms send back in response to our construction documents. Until bids are due back, we will not know who chose to bid on the renovation work.

Once bids are in, they will then be reviewed, negotiated, and accepted by the first week of July, which will then be followed by construction ground breaking.

May 14th | "See you Later, Black House"

The Black House Steering Committee in partnership with Multicultural Student Affairs hosting a weeklong programming series to properly say “See you later, Black House.”

If you are a student group who would like to add an event to the calendar for the week of June 3rd-June 7th please contact MSA at More information to come soon!

May 7th | Tour for Temporary Spaces

The rescheduled tour for temporary spaces for the Black House took place yesterday in the late afternoon. Representatives from ASG, MSA student staff, and the Black House Renovation Steering committee attended. 

Before the tour, Black House Steering Committee members and staff from facilities met with tour participants to review the decision-making process, considerations for spaces, and comparison of two options. From there the group toured two spaces and de-briefed after the second tour. 

Once the decision-making process was outlined, considerations for temporary site selections were discussed. Considerations included such topics as location on campus, security and access needs, the financial impact, the community impact when thinking about adjacencies, and the size of the temporary space. 

Community must-haves for the space were considered as well, with students and staff compiling and prioritizing the needs for the temporary space. The needs  identified and prioritized for the temporary space are:
  • Office space for student organizations
  • Office space for staff currently in The Black House
  • Lounge areas (more than 1 is ideal)
  • Study space
  • Storage space

Once all of the considerations were taken into account, there emerged two clear options for the tour. Next steps are for student representatives from the tour to take their impressions of the two spaces along with a fact sheet that compares options one and two. Options one and two are not being identified at this time based on needs for that information to remain confidential for the time being.

If you have any questions about this update you can contact the cochair of the Black House Renovation Steering committee, Julie Payne-Kirchmeier at

April 30th | "See you Later, Black House", Tour, and ASG Resolution

"See you later, Black House"

On Tuesday, April 23rd, students and staff gathered in the Black House to collaborate on events designed to intentionally recognized students who have been in the space, who use the space, and who will be coming in to the temporary space in the fall. Students along with MSA staff are working on a calendar of events that will be shared next month.

Temporary Spaces Tour

Tuesday, April 30th, the Black House Renovation Steering Committee members will tour two potential temporary Black House locations with Black students invited from the steering committee, ASG, and MSA student staff.  One of the two locations will potentially serve as the temporary space for the Black House once it undergoes renovation beginning this summer and lasting until fall of 2020. Locations for the temporary space were selected based on fit and function of how the space is currently used, and based on the limited inventory available on campus.

ASG Resolution and Senate Visit 

Wednesday, May 1st, staff from Student Affairs will attend ASG’s senate meeting to discuss points from the resolution passed last week that outlines concerns previously voiced by some in the Black student community about issues related to the Black House and the Black student community.

April 23rd | Black House Farewell Programming Planning Meeting

As mentioned at the conclusion of the Architecture Presentation, MSA and the Black House Renovation Steering Committee are looking to partner with students for a week-long “See you later, Black House” programming series. An email went out on April 10th inviting those who attended the Architecture Presentation to join us for a planning meeting on Tuesday, April 23rd at 5:30pm in the Black House first floor conference room - dinner will be provided. All are welcome - please feel forward this invitation, and do let Dav know if you have any questions via the email address later in this update. Below are some reflection questions to think about and discuss with others in order to help us jump into planning.

  1. How do we say “see you later” for each class year?
    1.  Anything special for Seniors?
    2.  How about Juniors who won’t be on campus as students for the opening of the refreshed Black     House?
    3. Anything we want to do for incoming first year students?
  2.  What is already being planned for the week of June 3rd so that we do not duplicate or over-program?
  3. How do we document the temporary closing of the house? Example: videos, photos, storytelling…

Hope to see you at the Black House! But in case you cannot make it or if you have questions, please email Dav (Dav Velazquez Phillip).

April 16th | Architecture Presentation and Community Comments

Architecture Presentation

On April 9, there was a meeting for community members in the Black House to review the Black House renovation project. The project, in the phase called design development was described by architects from the Moody Nolan architecture firm, a premiere firm, black owned and operated. The floor-by-floor review of the building was explained in detail by the architects, and students and community members asked questions and made comments.

On the first floor, space is dedicated to larger gatherings, with the warmth of the wood being left intact. Out of the back of the house, a patio is planned for outside gatherings and community building. The spaces reflect widespread agreement from stakeholders about how the black house should be organized. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni all have a similar vision for the organization of the house.
The second and third floors house black staff office spaces, large group student organization space, and quieter spaces for students to be able to relax and study. The second floor also has a balcony off of the back side of the house. The outside of the house will look mostly as it does now, but with a fresh exterior.

Student & Community Member Questions & Comments

Questions and comments came from a group of approximately 30 people who were in the room. There were a fair number of questions about the architecture itself, the process of getting the building renovated, and the timeline for the work.

Moody Nolan responded to the questions about architecture, noting that next steps for feedback include finalizing the functional use of the spaces, and deciding the furnishings in the spaces. There was a special mention of art throughout the black house and how the messaging of the house will tell the story of Northwestern's black community.

The 15-month timeline for the renovation begins July 1, 2019 and continues through until fall 2020 when the Black House is scheduled to reopen. During the time that the black house undergoes its renovations, there will be an alternate location for the black house. Once a space or spaces are identified, the black house renovation steering committee will work with the community about plans for a transition. Because this has been a two-year process, there was a desire from those gathered in the room to have more regular updates regarding the happenings for the renovation.

Co-chairs Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson and Julie Payne-Kirchmeier will be updating the website with periodic updates and/or summaries from the steering committee's meetings.