Northwestern University, Wirtz Center

Evanston, IL

Northwestern University, Louis Theatre, Stage lighting.


The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts is a primary cultural facility on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus, supporting theatre, music theatre, and dance productions staged by the School of Communication, Department of Theatre, and Department of Performance Studies. GBA provided LEED fundamental and enhanced commissioning for a renovation/addition project encompassing about 21,000 square feet. LEED Silver certification was achieved.


To improve performing arts support at Northwestern University, the school undertook a combined addition/renovation project affecting the existing Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts and the adjacent Louis Hall building. The main goal was increasing and upgrading teaching facilities in support of theatre and performance study programs.

  • A two-story addition (about 4,000 square feet per floor) created a new main entrance, large lobby, and black-box instructional classroom. The second floor of the addition has a 24-foot-high ceiling with structural reinforcement to support dance and aerial work.
  • Additional construction completely renovated the second floor of the existing Wirtz building, adding three more black box classrooms, two conference/ seminar rooms, a design studio, a computer lab, music and coaching rooms, and expanded restrooms.
  • Grumman|Butkus commissioned the central building automation system, HVAC systems, plumbing systems, electrical systems, and fire protection system involved in the project.
  • GBA helped resolve persistent and wide-ranging acoustical concerns. These ranged from high-pitched duct leaks in individual spaces to unacceptable airflow noise through common areas. Solutions included duct resealing, duct transition re-examination, and rebalancing of existing parts of the building outside the original scope.
  • Troubleshooting efforts are ongoing and have led to a marked improvement in the usability of the space.

View More Projects

Interested in learning more about how GBA can assist with your facility objectives? Our portfolio is a great place to start. 

Skyscraper board room

430 N. Michigan (Realtor Building)

A large-scale vertical expansion called on GBA's analytical, design, and commissioning skills.

Hallway with rehab equipment

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Pediatric & DayRehab Center

This outpatient center serves children and adults; GBA provided engineering design services for the adaptive reuse project.

Exterior of Todd Building, University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky, Lee T. Todd, Jr. Building

An ASHRAE Level 1 audit,  retro-commissioning, and a lab ventilation assessment improved sustainability.