Kellogg’s $250 Million Marvel On The Lake

To celebrate the building’s lakefront location, Kellogg’s new 415,000-square-foot Global Hub pays homage to the environment in two ways — the curved exterior walls reflect the wave movement on the lake, while the glass reflects the blues of the water as well as the sky.

Night and Day.

Sure, it’s a quintessential Sinatra tune from another era. But the cliche aptly describes the dramatic difference between the old, comparatively drab gray concrete home of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and its new, ultra-modern, glass-and-steel global hub that officially opened today (March 29).

The $250 million lakefront structure with two atriums piled on top of each other is a breathtakingly expansive building that makes Kellogg’s old home feel like a dated high school facility. You could easily think, in fact, that the now near-empty Jacob Center, named for the school’s legendary Dean Don Jacobs, could fit in just the soaring four-story, 6,000-square-foot “collaboration plaza” at the center of the building.


All together, with its four wings of nooks and crannies for students to study and hang out, the 415,000-square-foot building is nothing less than an architectural marvel among a sea of Northwestern campus gray. Or as Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin recently observed, “This is a carefully wrought, spatially complex design that promises to teach future executives valuable lessons about collaboration, boldness and flexibility.”

It is also a sorely needed upgrade for Kellogg. Harry Kraemer, a clinical professor of strategy, concedes that “The Jake,” as students affectionally call the Jacob Center, was “a pretty miserable environment.” With the sole exception of Columbia Business School, which is preparing to move to a new New York building in a couple of years, Kellogg was the graduate school of business without a home worthy of its prestige and pedigree. No longer.

Just read the prose architected by Kamin, who clearly fell in love with the new building that opened to students on the first day of the new quarter classes on Monday. “Curving walls and canopies, inspired by the way the lake’s waves round off materials, relate well to the contours of the shoreline and an undulating lagoon to the south,” wrote the critic. “The curves join with translucent vertical fins to give the building an appealing sense of fluidity. Reddish-brown wood soffits lend the cool blue-green facade much-needed warmth. Outdoor terraces, some with spectacular views of the Chicago skyline, suggest that the B-school is not a hermetically sealed glass box shut off from its surroundings.”

Phew. The only fault Kamin found was some unevenly poured concrete, though none was in evidence today. Seven years in the planning, the building took, in the words of Dean Sally Blount, “every ounce of faith, grit, and patience” to get it done: More than one million work hours by over 1,500 people. The materials used in the fabrics in the building are from 17 different countries.

Here’s a photographic peek at Kellogg’s new magnificent home, designed by the Toronto-based architectural firm of Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg (KPMB).

Leading Bravely Into A New Era


At the Global Hub, incoming students are welcomed by two hanging banners in the university’s trademark purple that proudly announce the school is “Leading Bravely Into A New Era.” Gone is the formal oil portrait of legendary Dean Don Jacobs who had welcomed visitors to “The Jake” for years in a humble, low-ceiling vestibule. Instead, to the immediate right of the entrance at the Global Hub, there’s a new Don Jacobs wing.

The Collaboration Plaza


The architectural brief for Kellogg’s Global Hub called for an “excessively public” building. Bruce Kuwabara, a foundering partner of Toronto-based KPMB Architects, says objective brought to mind an “academic village a hilltop town or a piazza.” During an early presentation on the project, the architects had put up a slide with the words “from the shores of Lake Michigan to Piazza San Marco,” a reference to the public square in Venice. The Kellogg imagined version turned out to be the so-called Collaboration Plaza on the first floor, with a three-story-high atrium and two glass openings that draw attention toward Lake Michigan and Chicago’s skyline. “A lot of business schools are about power and donors,” Kuwabara says. “This is about collaboration.”

The Spanish Steps


A pair of sweeping 34-foot-wide stairways reminiscent of Rome’s renowned Spanish Steps anchor the Collaboration Plaza. The steps serve as a convening place for students and link the lower level, first floor, and second floor of Kellogg’s new Global Hub.

The Galvin Family Design Wing


North of the plaza in Kellogg’s new Global Hub is a 7,800-square-foot space called the Galvin Family Design Wing & Conference Center. Among other things, the wing includes four design studios: a company-in-residence studio, an artist-in-residence studio, a tech studio where virtual reality-assisted brainstorming can occur, and a maker space where design prototypes can be built. The wing also houses Kellogg’s entrepreneurial initiative where students can work on their startup ideas.


  • Current Student

    I understand the points you are making but it sounds like you need to forgo the business school experience in exchange for a masters in architecture. We have a new building, it’s gorgeous, and it better suits our needs as a growing institution. I enrolled in Kellogg when it was in an old concrete box. But that was certainly not my measure for success when choosing the right business school for me. Turning down a business school for its building is like turning down a job offer because of the office cafeteria. Maybe it’s time to look into architecture…

  • night_in_mexico

    Yeah I love everything in the Midwest.

  • morning_in_america

    Magnificent 21st century palace of learning. Makes HBS look terribly old-fashioned and out of date, almost medievally so.

  • morning_in_america

    Resistance is futile. Kellogg is the best in all dimensions.

  • KelloggGrad

    I agree with you, Tim. Kellogg students really do stand out in a good way. Part of the reason so many investment banks/boutiques don’t conduct OCR is because there are fewer kellogg alumni in those banks.

    However the bigger problem is that the CMC assumes it is entirely because of lack of student interest when membership in IBCM club shows that there are 70+ students interested in IB recruiting and only around 35 getting IB internships and 25-30 getting FT. While seniors and professors are super helpful in preparing students for recruiting, there is no dedicated point person responsible for getting banks/boutiques on campus. If they asked themselves “Why have JPM/Credit Suisse/Deutche Bank/UBS/BMO/Moelis/Jeffries/Pipar Jaffrey/Greenhill/Houlihan Lokey/Guggenheim/Rothschild/etc stopped conducting OCR at Kellogg while continuing to conduct OCR at peer and much lower ranked schools?”, they would see there is indeed a weak spot that can be improved upon.

    This is how Cornell fixed this same problem:
    They hired Drew Pascarella, a 15 year veteran former Director of investment banking from Citi, who leveraged his contacts to get financial firms (e.g.: Evercore) that previously didn’t even recruit from Cornell to do so and the ones that did to expand hiring. (Kellogg has an amazing finance professor for this but his focus rightfully is on technical prep, not on bringing banks to campus).

  • DACochran

    Gorgeous building. As someone at a great school in the 20-30 range with a lovely building but certainly nothing like the Global Hub, I wonder whether the MBA “arms race” is anywhere close to a fair fight. If we put out a better “product” but without the facilities and sexiness of Kellogg, do we really have a chance at winning that prospective student over? It’s a tough environment for a school looking to rise in the rankings.

  • Tim Hennessey

    I am amazed how little things have changed. I was Kellogg Class of 1987, and I was one of just a handful of Kellogg grads who got Corporate Finance/Offers from the big banks. Sales and Trading however? Tons of Kellogg grads got offers. What seems different from now is EVERY IB came to Kellogg to interview (Goldman, Morgan Stanley, etc.) when I was there. It is a shame that the banks have cut back. I always thought Kellogg students brought something extra to the party – IB grads from the quant schools all looked and sounded the same. I got to meet a lot of them because I traveled to Wharton and Harvard for a Top 30 School MBA Conference they used to have (I was in the Kellogg student govt). Kellogg students really, really stood out – and in a good way!