Northwestern University officials today announced that construction of a new new home for the Bienen School of Music will start this spring.

The building will also provide additional space for the School of Communication.

Designed to be a signature building for the University, the new facility will enable the Bienen School to consolidate all of its programs in one campus location for the first time in more than 35 years.

Top: A rendering showing an aerial view the new building looking to the northeast. Above: Another view, looking northwest from the waters of the lake.

The new building will be located just south of the school’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall and connected to the Regenstein Hall of Music on the southern end of Northwestern’s lakefront campus. The five-story structure will be directly east of the Theatre and Interpretation Center with views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

The new 150,000 square foot building will include classrooms, teaching labs, faculty offices, teaching studios for choral, jazz, opera, piano and voice faculty, practice rooms, student lounges and administrative offices.

There also will be a choral rehearsal/recital room, choral and orchestra libraries, an opera rehearsal/black box theater and a 400-seat recital hall.

The new building and the adjacent arts green.

Estimated cost for the new facility and an adjacent arts green is $117 million. Construction is expected to begin in May and take approximately three years to complete with move-in expected in fall 2015. Architect for the building is Goettsch Partners, Inc. of Chicago.

School of Music Dean Toni-Marie Montgomery said, the new building symbolizes the excellence of the school and its faculty and alumni as well as the university’s significant investment in the arts.

The fifth floor of the new building will provide a new south campus home for the School of Communication administration, including the dean’s office and additional offices for faculty members. Space in the new building will enable the School to bring together on one floor the faculty in the Department of Theatre and in the Department of Performance Studies, and to have them in the same building with colleagues in the School of Music, thereby creating more opportunities for collaboration in the performing arts.

The project also will include a new Music and Arts Green to the west of the building that will provide a 120-foot wide pedestrian-friendly green space.

University officials say the new gateway to the fine arts area will provide a major open space amenity that can become a focal point for special events and passive recreation.

It’s expected to improve pedestrian safety and circulation significantly while still allowing vehicular access to the current buildings as well as enhancing views of the lake and of Chicago.

A slide show with more images of the planned music building is available online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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