Northwestern University is an elite higher education institution located on the shores of Lake Michigan. The university's musical program is known for being exceptional and highly competitive. With that in mind, we developed a successful design for the new Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts.

Northwestern’s new Center for the Musical Arts building is located just south of the university’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, near the theater building and art museum. It wraps around Regenstein Hall, a brutalist music building from the 1970s, enabling the Bienen School of Music to consolidate all its programs in one location. The new building’s five stories and basement contain 99 practice rooms, a dozen classrooms, a recording suite, administrative offices, music faculty offices, and 35 teaching studios for the piano, jazz, and voice faculty.

A glassy atrium with spectacular views of Lake Michigan serves three major rooms: a black box rehearsal / performance space for the opera program, with retractable seating and a large window facing the lake; a choral rehearsal room that doubles as a recital hall; and a gorgeous 400-seat recital hall with sinuous wood walls and a glass wall at the back of the stage with an outstanding view of the Chicago skyline.

Kirkegaard provided consulting services for room acoustics, isolation, and noise and vibration control throughout the building, and AV in the major spaces. The glass curtain wall that encloses most of the building presented a particular design challenge. Kirkegaard developed unique details for secondary glazing to achieve a high level of isolation among the practice rooms and teaching studios along the outside wall, while still flooding these rooms with natural light.

Project Details
Audiovisual Systems Design
Mechanical Noise Control
Room Acoustics Design
Sound Isolation
Goettsch Partners, Architect, Chicago IL
Schuler Shook, Theater Consultant, Chicago, IL
152,000 gsf
400-seat recital hall; 150-seat opera rehearsal/performance space; 140-seat choral rehearsal/recital hall
2017 Design Award, New Construction – Design Evanston 2017 Design Award, Landscape Design – Design Evanston 2016 Best Project – $50 Million to $150 Million – Structural Engineers Association of Illinois LEED Gold Certified