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Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts

The Ryan Center, on the southern end of Northwestern’s campus, houses the Bienen School of Music’s rehearsal, performance, classroom, and administrative spaces, and the School of Communication Dean’s office staff, as well as the administration for the Department of Theatre, the Department of Performance Studies, and the Dance Program. The show-stopping lobby views have attracted visitors from all over campus and the surrounding community, and its certified LEED Gold status ensures a healthy, green, and productive space for both schools to thrive.

Frances Searle Building

The Frances Searle Building is home to the School of Communication’s science and research programs, including the Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Department of Communication Studies. Research and teaching spaces, auditoriums, smart classrooms, and administrative offices fill Searle’s expansive footprint. New to the building is the SoundTank, a collaborative space for artists, musicians, sound designers, researchers, scientists, and engineers to gather and solve problems in sound and foster innovative ideas and advancements. SoundTank is a linchpin to the school’s new MA in Sound Arts & Industries.

The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts and Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center

The School of Communication’s principal artistic home is the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts. The center produces and manages the performing arts productions of the School of Communication, Department of Theatre, and Department of Performance Studies, and has the programmatic responsibility for theatre, music theatre, and dance.

The Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center is a professional-caliber teaching and rehearsal facility that contains two dance studios — the Ballroom and the Cellar — used for production practice and classes. It adjoins the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to presenting regular student concerts, the Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center hosts exciting master classes and performance residencies by alumni and visiting international artists. The Dance Program, highlighted by its annual “Danceworks” event, produces its shows in other venues: the 288-seat Josephine Louis Theater and the 1,000-seat Cahn Auditorium.

Each year, as many as forty productions are mounted in its four different performance venues: the 439-seat Ethel M. Barber Theater, the 288-seat Josephine Louis Theater, the 100-seat Hal and Martha Hyer Wallis Theater, and the 100-seat Mussetter-Struble Theater — as well as in the University’s 1,000-seat Cahn Auditorium. The Wirtz includes two multipurpose dance and theatre studios, the South Rehearsal Room and the Bergen. The costume shop supervises and creates costumes for all productions; the enormous, industry-renowned scene shop, connected to all theaters in the Wirtz Center, centralizes all stage design and lighting work for the productions.

Annie May Swift Hall

One of the oldest and most beautiful buildings on Northwestern’s campus is the home to the Department of Radio/Television/Film, in addition to the department’s film library and the Peggy Dow Helmerich Auditorium. A recent rehab of the building added modern technologies, such as state-of-the-art projection and sound equipment in the auditorium, while still maintaining the historical details intrinsic to Annie May Swift’s charm. Faculty offices, classrooms, and a black-box theater round out its amenities.

Northwestern University Center for Audiology, Speech, Language, and Learning

A pioneering health clinic on the north side of the Evanston campus, NUCASLL is the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders’ portal to the community. The clinicians, physicians, and students working in and through the clinic diagnose and treat an array of hearing and speech challenges in children and adults using the most advanced technologies and resources available anywhere today. The Aphasia Center brings those with this acquired language disorder together as a community, and the Developmental Diagnostic Program — in partnership with the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago — uses interdisciplinary services and multi-visit evaluations to diagnose autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, and other communication disorders in children. The clinic is readily open to the public and often hosts free speech and hearing screenings.

John J. Louis Hall

John J. Louis Hall houses the School of Communication’s professional production, post-production, and classroom facilities for the Department of Radio/Television/Film. New to Louis are updated sound production studios for Foley effects, music, and voice-overs; professional-level sets for lighting exercises and filming, and a black-box theater. Top-of-the-line production equipment is stored and distributed in the building’s foyer. The studios of the student radio station, WNUR-FM, are found in Louis, as is the Barbara and Garry Marshall Studio wing, a film sound stage.

Fisk Hall

Fisk Hall contains interdisciplinary art and media spaces, including an instructional black box, and a digital media computer lab. Classes in these studios teach practical and fully portable skills, such as video and sound editing, graphic design, and acting. Extended evening and weekend hours give students extra time to complete projects or experiment with their craft. 

Hardy House

Hardy House, located at 1809 Chicago Avenue, is the headquarters of Northwestern’s Debate Society and its championship team. In addition to training spaces and Society offices, Hardy House contains a research room that students use to prepare for debate events. At any given time, day or night, students utilize Hardy House for research, preparation, practice, and collaboration. The Northwestern Debate Society, the oldest and “winningest” debate program in the country, has achieved unequaled success in competition, culminating with 2015’s prestigious National Debate Tournament win, the unprecedented 15th such victory for NDS. Northwestern’s nearest competitors, Harvard and Dartmouth, have six championships apiece. The Debate Society also sponsors noncompetitive public debates on issues of interest to the campus community and hosts teams from other countries.

1815 Chicago Avenue

1815 Chicago Avenue is a lively hub of the Department of Communication Studies, housing nationally known faculty who specialize in rhetoric, media, and public culture.

617 Noyes

The National High School Institute, Northwestern’s premier university-based summer program for outstanding high school students, is headquartered at 617 Noyes in Evanston. Students from all over the country converge on campus each summertime to take part in immersive weeks-long programs in theatre, film, or debate. Schedules are rigorous, and classes and rehearsals demanding, but college-bound teens walk away with extraordinary experiences, thanks to professional-level teachers and practitioners and the School of Communication’s state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. Administration and support services are offered through 617 Noyes.


Abbott Hall

The School of Communication’s Chicago campus home is in Abbott Hall on scenic Lake Shore Drive. It includes our Center for Communication and Health, which houses the graduate program in Health Communication; communication sciences and disorders clinical and research space; and the Black Arts Consortium. Abbott Hall is also home to the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for Performing and Media Arts in Chicago. The recently completed 24,000 square foot center will serve as the creative hub for the school’s suite of MFA and professional programs in acting, stage design, directing, sound arts and industries, documentary media, and writing for screen and stage. The state-of-the-art facility is designed for a unique combination of performance and instruction and includes multiuse black box spaces (with one equipped for film screenings), a lobby and gallery space, teaching studios, a computer lab, a design studio, a green room, and administrative offices.

Satellite and Affiliate Facilities

Block Cinema

The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is a fine arts museum committed to the study and exhibition of reproducible art forms, including prints, photographs, film, video, and computer-mediated art. The Museum mounts several exhibitions a year, organizes numerous lectures and symposia, and reaches national and international audiences through its traveling exhibitions, publications, and website. The expanding permanent collection—consisting primarily of works on paper—distinguishes the Block Museum as an important repository of original works of art.
Block Cinema, housed in the Block Museum’s Pick-Laudati Auditorium, screens classic and contemporary films both in 16mm and 35mm format. A collaboration between the School of Communication and the Block Museum of Art, Block Cinema provides Northwestern, the North Shore, and Chicago with a quality venue for repertory and festival cinema.

Cahn Auditorium

The largest performance space on campus, the Cahn Auditorium seats more than a thousand people and contains an orchestra pit and a balcony. The annual Waa-Mu Show, Northwestern’s large-scale student-run musical that has spawned international talent since its advent in 1929, is staged here, as are many other productions each year.