While strolling around campus recently, I couldn’t help noticing the sorry state of the exterior of the Music Administration Building on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Being a graduate of this institution (B.M. 1998, M.M. 2000), it saddens me to see how shabby things are at present on campus. My uncle attended the Northwestern music school in the 1950s, and he’d probably notice little change in this signature building. One can almost see specters of ladies in poodle skirts and men in coats and ties milling about when approaching this building.
This building has a fascinating history, originally serving as the home for the Frances Willard Women’s College in the mid-19th century and eventually merging with Northwestern in 1873. Historic preservation does not seem to be a priority with Northwestern (as evidenced by the photos below), though unfulfilled promises of a new music building have been circulating since I started school here in the early 1990s.
This entrance to the building (on Clark Street just east of Sherman Avenue in Evanston) has traditionally been the point of entry for all music students at Northwestern. Undergraduates have most of their core courses in this facility (theory, aural skills, keyboard skills), and most academic graduate courses are conducted in this building.
One hopes that the crumbing facade isn’t an indicator of the health of the music program!
Here’s a close-up of the base of one of the pillars:
Things get grimmer as I round the corner of the building. These next shots were taken right next to the east entrance which I used for six years during my studies. Honestly, I’ve seen abandoned buildings in better shape than this! I remember tales of rodent problems in MAB when I was in school. Not hard to believe when I take a look at these shots:
As I glanced up, I was startled to see a big hole in the underside of the roof overhang, with a large piece dangling precariously above a walkway which is used by hundreds of students every day.
Here’s a close-up. I can’t help but imagine bats living up there, flying out at dusk for their nightly excursions.
I feel bad that Northwestern can’t seem to keep its facilities up, despite their hefty tuition ($35,229 tuition + $10,776 annual room and board for the 2008-09 school year – totaling $46,005 yearly). This is, after all, my alma mater. I take pride in having gone to Northwestern, and I feel like a got a great education there. But c’mon, this is looking really shabby!
My wife is currently working on a pre-med program at Northwestern. I had to wonder if the rest of the campus is looking this ragged. After all, tuition is the same for every student, so shouldn’t this equity be reflected in the rest of the university’s colleges?
So I took a walk. Here’s the Kellogg School of Management:
Hey! That building looks great! What gives?
How about the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center?
These buildings look like they’re part of a world-class institution….which they are. Northwestern consistently ranks in the top ten academic institutions in many fields, and it is a leader in research and development. This prestigious status is reflected in the buildings used by students, faculty, alumni, guests, and prospective students. If these buildings scream success, what’s the message we should take from the music buildings on campus?