Design Construction Concepts has completed Northwestern Hillel, a Jewish student center located in a renovated, three-story building at 629 Foster Street on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Illinois.
“We’re very excited to be able to redesign and build an open and inviting space for students to hang out and feel welcome on campus,” said Andy Poticha, principal at Design Construction Concepts. “Although designed before the Coronavirus pandemic, the original plan was always to create a bright, open space with lots of flexibility, so it is able to hold socially distant gatherings.”
The new center features exposed vaulted ceilings, bright glazed offices, an open-concept library, solarium alcove, a large student lounge to study and hang out, game room, built-in coffee bars on all three floors and a dining hall with a large multi-purpose area that can be divided into four meeting rooms. The moveable walls will be ideal for large meetings, speaker events and religious gatherings, once it’s safe to host them.
As the university moved to reduce density on campus this fall, Northwestern Hillel was able to offer virtual online connections and hold modified outdoor, socially distant gatherings with masks on. Design Construction Concepts dramatically improved the center’s AV capacity for video conferencing and live streaming for such ritual events as virtual Friday evening Shabbat services and High Holiday content. They also created critically important outdoor meeting space with an inviting landscaped patio for both socially distant gatherings and as a staging area to hand out shabbat dinner meal kits.
“It has been a pleasure working with Design Construction Concepts on this transformative project,” said Michael Simon, executive director at Northwestern Hillel. “They worked closely with us every step of the way, anticipating our needs and partnering with us to fulfill our vision for this renovation.”
“Currently, we have a limited number of staff in the center at any given time. It’s given us ample opportunity to get acquainted with space as we move toward a phased reopening,” said Simon. “When we will be able to have socially distant student gatherings remains uncertain, but we intend to welcome students with open arms once gatherings are again safe, potentially in spring 2021.”
Northwestern Hillel has been the foundation for Jewish life on campus since 1934. The organization is a partner of Northwestern University, and a local partner of both Hillel International and the Jewish United Fund (JUF) in serving community life on campus. The renovated building, named the Abel & Judy Friedman Center for Jewish Life at the Louis & Saerree Fiedler Hillel, was funded by alumni, parents and community partners of Northwestern Hillel.