Music and Communication Building

About The Building

In February 2008, Northwestern University announced plans for a new music building. A design competition followed, with proposals sent to 25 architectural firms and Chicago-based Goettsch Partners was eventually selected as the winner.  

On May 18, 2012, a groundbreaking ceremony celebration was held on the site of the future building, and on June 20, construction work began. The new building will hold some academic music classes during the spring 2015 quarter and be ready for full occupancy in fall 2015. The building’s design emphasizes sustainability, and the structure is expected to receive certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

The design features a limestone base supporting an exterior that is primarily glass — taking maximum advantage of the site’s lakefront location and views of the Chicago skyline. The building integrates completely with the existing Regenstein Hall of Music, with two connections between the buildings on each of Regenstein’s three levels.

The building’s main entrance opens onto a soaring glass atrium, with lounge and reception areas offering views of the lake and downtown Chicago. In addition, the atrium serves as the lobby for the 400-seat Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall. Kirkegaard Associates — the world-renowned acoustical design firm whose president, Lawrence Kirkegaard, designed the acoustics for Pick-Staiger Concert Hall — assisted in designing the Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall’s interior, which features a glass wall offering stunning views of the Chicago skyline.

The Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater, a 150-seat black box theater, will provide an integral, flexible space for opera rehearsals as well as an intimate venue for small one-act operas and other performances by students and faculty. Also on the building’s first floor are the Carol and David McClintock Choral and Recital Room as well as several classrooms, all with exterior windows.

Although elevators connect all the building’s levels, the atrium floor also connects to the second level by way of ceremonial stairs. Bienen School offices for admission and financial aid, student affairs, career services, IT support and web communication are located on the second level. Practice rooms and faculty studios and offices occupy the remainder of the second level as well as most of the third level.

Offices of the dean, associate deans and other administrative staff are located on the fourth level. Administrative offices for the School of Communication reside on the fifth level.

Practice rooms in Regenstein and the new building total 150, a net gain of 55 over the current total of 95 in Regenstein, the Music Administration Building, and Music Practice Hall (the “Beehive”). All practice rooms and faculty studios are soundproof.

The Bienen School’s new building represents a major commitment on the part of the donors and University administration who have made this construction possible. A ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for September 24, 2015, will kick off a year-long celebration of Bienen School activities for the new building. More information will be posted at a later date.

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