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Architect Selected for University Center Renovation and Expansion

Ennead Architects will oversee project to revamp Norris University Center

EVANSTON, Ill. --- After a lengthy national search, Ennead Architects of New York has been chosen as the architecture firm for the major renovation and expansion of Northwestern University’s Norris University Center on the Evanston campus.

“We felt that Ennead could enhance the university center while maintaining our student center heart,“ said Kelly Schaefer, executive director of Norris University Center. “Ennead will create an atmosphere that allows the Northwestern community and guests to thrive outside the classroom by learning, collaborating, relaxing and creating in a comfortable yet inspirational center.”

The new University center will be a substantial renovation of the current Norris University Center that is projected to increase its size by 80,000 square feet, thereby allowing it to accommodate significantly more members of the Northwestern community. This renovation will promote greater student leadership and learning experiences through enriched student organization and performance spaces, a larger multipurpose room and more meeting areas.

“The University center of the future must intertwine the aspirational with the functional and doing so will require an intellectual harmony between visionary architects and inspired students,” Associated Student Government President Ani Ajith said. “Ennead’s founding partner, Tomas Rossant, is a relatable visionary capable of engaging us in a conversation about our values and our goals, and he possesses the Northwestern kind of pragmatism to imbue them within the building.”

Addressing the project, Rossant asked, “How can one building on the campus elevate the entire mission of Northwestern?” Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin agreed that to build campus and community, this question must be answered.

“Ennead will bring the intellectual rigor necessary to envision a building that enriches the Northwestern experience by fostering learning through discovery and creativity,” Telles-Irvin said.

Internationally recognized for design excellence, Ennead creates lasting architecture that contributes significantly to its context. The firm is dedicated to designing buildings that are both inspirational and functional, and to developing mission-focused environments that purposefully support human activity.

The renovation of Norris will join two other south campus additions -- the new Music and Communication building and the visitor’s center -- in taking better advantage of the University’s lakefront location.

“As we have seen with current and future capital projects, Northwestern University is focusing on the lakefront’s contributions to the campus environment,” Schaefer said. “The new University center will capture the essence of its lakefront location more effectively, and it will connect with academic, library and arts neighbors to the north, west and south.”

Ennead’s portfolio includes a balance of higher education institutions and public buildings, each of which makes its own distinctive statement. The designers will partner with renowned landscape firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and local architecture firm UrbanWorks on this project. 

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