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.

In a news release, the school said 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.

The new building will face an arts green that will replace the existing Arts Circle on the campus.

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, a 90-member, Chicago-based firm, has completed projects throughout Asia, Europe, and North and South America. The firm also maintains an office in Shanghai, China.

It’s Chicago-area projects include 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.

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.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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