The museum is located on the main campus of Northwestern University. As part of a group of buildings known as the Arts Circle, it sits adjacent to a concert hall and a performing arts center, with views of Lake Michigan.
The 13,000-square-foot addition to an existing building includes three exhibition spaces totaling 6,000 square feet, a 160-seat auditorium, administrative offices, an 1,100-square-foot print and drawing center, a digitally wired secondary gallery and classroom, and expanded storage facilities.
The museum addition doubles the size of the existing exhibit and educational facility while enhancing the harmony of the Arts Circle. With extensive glass and solid walls of limestone—the predominant materials on campus—the addition blends with neighboring buildings while remaining a modernist spirit in its design. The major exhibition space is a floating wing that extends over an open plaza. The resulting portico shelters an important pedestrian thoroughfare and small sculpture court. The stair to the second floor is housed in a two-story glass atrium overlooking Lake Michigan.