Kresge Hall recently underwent an extensive re-organization and upgrade to align with Northwestern’s contemporary education demands. As home to the Humanities programs, the building houses more than twenty University departments and welcomes nearly every undergraduate student.
Often described as “four floors of basement” the collegiate gothic-style Kresge Hall was constructed in 1955 and was very outdated. Northwestern’s key goals for the renovation/addition included aligning the building’s circulation with existing campus patterns and creating an extremely flexible and adaptable design. Kresge Hall also required an unusually broad range of mechanical and performance upgrades.
The architect began by relocating the building’s entrance from the first floor east to the second floor west, connecting by bridge to an adjacent plaza and enhancing this well-loved public space. The existing materiality of the stone building was restored and enhanced to preserve its historic character and to complement surrounding buildings.
Each classroom was designed to support a range of teaching styles and configurations with integrated A/V technology – and its appropriate lighting strategies - that supports distance learning, video capture and other contemporary teaching practices.
The central challenge was introducing modern, sustainable mechanical systems into a building with a very tight floor-to-floor height. To maximize the sense of space, the designers reimagined the entire facility as a contemporary loft with exposed structure and systems, akin to a high-tech office. Open ceilings, clerestory lighting, exposed ductwork, and chilled sails make this project both visually and technically open, accessible, and flexible.