Clad in Indiana limestone, Annenberg Hall is situated in the central area of the Northwestern University campus in Chicago, IL, on a small embankment that used to form the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The building's collegiate character evokes the spirit of adjacent early 20th century buildings that range from Neo-Gothic to Neo-Classical, according to Booth Hansen, which served as the architectural firm on the project. The architects were challenged to design the 65,000-square-foot, 4-story building to match the older stone buildings on campus in both color and material.

“We wanted to create a building that was compatible, but we also wanted to have a building that would require little maintenance,” said Principal Architect Larry Booth. To meet the desired aesthetic, the architects selected Indiana limestone from Indiana Limestone Co. of Bedford, IN, which had already been substantially used on other buildings around campus that had been built over the past 100 years. It was selected to transition from the Gothic design of some adjacent buildings to the modern design of others. According to the architect, the material wears well in Chicago's climate.

Additionally, Booth added that the project's budget was limited, and therefore it is a very economically driven building. “The limestone was factory applied to precast concrete panels, so that we could use large-sized panels of limestone,” said Booth. “This was also ideal because the joints didn't show. The panels were handled in a fabrication plant with equipment that was built to handle the large 5- x 5-foot limestone panels.”

The Indiana limestone was given rock-faced and smooth chat-sawn finishes, which added texture and depth to the facade. According to Booth, a chat-sawn finish is created by putting ball bearings into the saw to create irregular patterns.

Booth said that there weren't many challenges involved with the project, mainly because the large, 10- x 40-foot precast panels required very few lifts.

According to the project manager from Northwestern University, the limestone, which is embedded in the precast panels, was cut with wire, leaving bits of metal in the stone. Annenberg Hall is home to the School of Education and Social Policy and was named in honor of publisher, broadcaster, diplomat and philosopher Walter Annenberg.

“It was received very positively, and seems as if it had been there for centuries,” said Booth. “It is really connected to the campus, the landscape and to the surrounding buildings.”

Credit Box

Annenberg Hall
Northwestern University
Chicago, IL

Architect: Booth Hansen, Chicago, IL

Stone Supplier: Indiana Limestone Co., Bedford, IN