Northwestern University selects Goettsch Partners to design new music building

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2010, with completion expected in spring 2012

CHICAGO – (October 21, 2008) – Northwestern University has selected Goettsch Partners, Inc. as the architectural firm to design the new building for the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music on the University’s Evanston campus. The project will emphasize a sustainable design approach throughout, with a minimum of achieving LEED Silver certification. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2010, with completion expected in spring 2012.

The announcement follows a four-month search for an architectural firm for the project.

Northwestern will construct the state-of-the-art School of Music building facing an arts green that will replace the existing Arts Circle on its Evanston campus. Envisioned as a signature building for the University, the new facility will enable the Bienen School of Music to consolidate all of its programs in one area for the first time in more than 30 years.

Goettsch Partners is a Chicago-based design firm that provides innovative architectural, interior, planning and building enclosure design services to clients worldwide. Led by seven partners, the 90-member firm has completed projects throughout Asia, Europe, and North and South America. The firm also maintains an office in Shanghai, China.

Goettsch Partners has a strong Chicago connection with one-of-a-kind institutional projects that have included the Museum of Science and Industry’s U-505 Submarine Exhibit and the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Regenstein Center for African Apes, as well as 111 South Wacker, UBS Tower, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Headquarters. Among numerous international projects, the design firm’s work includes the new Abu Dhabi stock exchange building and financial center in the United Arab Emirates and the Diamond Exchange Tower in Shanghai. (For more information on the firm, visit

The new music building will be located just south of the School’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall and Regenstein Hall of Music on the southern end of Northwestern’s lakefront campus. The structure is projected to have spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

The new building will include classrooms, teaching labs, academic faculty offices, teaching studios for choral, opera, piano and voice faculty, practice rooms, student lounges and administrative offices. There also will be a choral rehearsal room and library, an opera rehearsal room/black box theater and a 400-seat recital hall.

Toni-Marie Montgomery, dean of the Bienen School of Music, said, “The new building will bring a sense of community that facilitates collaboration among our many excellent programs. We look forward to working with Goettsch Partners in planning a building that is both architecturally stunning as well as programmatically well-designed.”

“We chose architects we believed could develop an iconic design for the facility while respecting the campus context,” said Gordon Segal, chair of the Board of Trustees Educational Properties Committee.

“Goettsch Partners submitted a design concept that takes full advantage of the site’s lakeside setting and the views to the city of Chicago,” said Ronald Nayler, Northwestern’s associate vice president for facilities management. “We believe that refinement of that concept will result in an extraordinary building that will meet the needs of the Bienen School of Music faculty, staff and students.”

“This project presents an exceptional opportunity for our firm,” said James Goettsch, FAIA, president of Goettsch Partners. “Northwestern has set high expectations in terms of the architectural design of the new building and arts green, especially in light of the site’s dramatic lakefront setting.”

The School of Music has been named the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music in honor of the retiring University president and his wife. President Bienen, who announced in March that he plans to retire next year, and his wife, Leigh, are avid music-lovers and strong supporters of the arts, including the School of Music.

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