Rebecca Crown Center

Rebecca Crown Memorial Center was opened in 1968 as Northwestern’s new administrative building. Named in honor of Rebecca Kranz Crown (1899-1943), much of the funding for the building was provided by her husband, Henry Crown, founder of General Dynamics Corporation, and her three sons, Robert (WCAS, 1942), Lester (Tech, 1946) and John (Law, 1955). Henry Crown had long been a Northwestern University Associate and Lester Crown served as a Northwestern Trustee for many years. With operations and planning offices were inefficiently located in various buildings across the campus, the need for a new building to centralize the University’s administrative functions had become increasingly apparent.

The plans for the new administration center, announced in 1961 plans, required that the University obtain permission from the city of Evanston to close off Orrington Avenue just north of Clark Street and University Place just west of Sheridan Road. This would give the University sufficient land to build a complex of three interconnected buildings, sharing an outdoor plaza. The complex would provide new offices for the President, the Provost, the University’s Business Manager, the Development staff, the Admissions Office, the Registrar, Student Finances, and Central. The building’s executive wing included meeting space for the Board of Trustees and the University Senate, to be named Hardin Hall in honor of former Board of Trustees president John Hardin. Plans also called for a basement level sixty-car parking garage and a 100-foot-tall clock tower.

Walter E. Netsch, Jr. of the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill did the final design for the complex. Construction began in March, 1964, after the City vacated the streets and rerouted traffic around the site. The buildings, constructed of reinforced concrete and faced with Indiana limestone, are connected to each other both on the ground level and by second-floor passageways. Completed in July, 1968, at a total cost of three million dollars, the Center was dedicated in December of that year. The dedication included a formal presentation of the building to the University by Lester Crown and its acceptance by University President J. Roscoe Miller.

Rebecca Crown: Wide View with Clock Tower
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Quick Facts

Date: 1968

Architect: Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill

Named for: Wife of Northwestern benefactor Col. Henry Crown

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