Northwestern University Music and Communication Building: Recital Hall Glass Wall

Evanston, Illinois / United States of America

The main recital hall double skin glass wall at the back of the performance stage is designed to allow for the spectacular views of the Chicago skyline as well as support the highly sensitive acoustic performance requirements of a concert hall.  The detail needed to consider the overall acoustical challenges of a monumental 42’ x 40‘ glass wall and the resultant acoustical reflections within the recital hall.  The vertical supports of the glass wall are hung from above and achieve their slenderness by using highly tensioned horizontal cables that are anchored to the recital hall’s massive concrete side walls. Solar/blackout shades are hidden above the ceiling, contained within the accessible cavity so that they don’t interfere with the acoustics of the hall.  The inner glass wall is tilted inward to prevent an echo from being heard by the audience.  Acoustical banners can be employed inside the recital hall to fine tune the acoustics during a performance. The horizontal weaving wood ribbon panels of the recital hall were designed to absorb the sound reflections from the glass wall so that the entire room could work in harmony to create a unique vision without sacrificing acoustical performance.

Architect of Record

Goettsch Partners, Inc.


Northwestern University

General Contractor

Power Construction


  • Thornton Tomasetti
  • Cosentini Associates
  • Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects