The university unveiled the largest, most ambitious building project in its 172-year history, the Campus Crossroads Project, on Wednesday, January 29. Planning to construct three buildings attached to the west, east and south sides of the university’s football stadium, the project developers seek to revitalize the iconic stadium with academic venues, student life opportunities and athletic facilities.
University President Father John Jenkins, CSC, stated in a letter to the campus community that the 750,000 square feet of new construction “will maintain the compact walkability of campus, facilitate deeper connection and collaboration across the various units of the university and offer an exciting addition to what we believe is the best on-campus student learning experience in the country.”
With the stadium located near the three most populated class buildings—namely, DeBartolo Hall, Stinson Remick Hall and the Mendoza College of Business—the Crossroads Project will provide an alternate venue for studying and a quick place to grab a meal between classes. Moreover, it is perfectly situated next to the parking lots, and thus will further integrate off-campus and graduate students into on-campus life. The space between DeBartolo Hall and the stadium will be beautified with walkways, trees, planters and seating areas for students to utilize in warm weather.
Professor Laura Hollis, who teaches in the Mendoza College of Business, commented that, “from the standpoint of land use and eliminating sprawl, it seems smart to make more use of the land around the stadium…why shouldn’t there be something to do at a stadium besides attending a sporting event?”
Fr. Jenkins mentioned the questionable future of the residential college campus and emphasized the wish for the three new additions to the stadium to become a nexus of student life. Specifically, the facilities will house new research and teaching venues, academic departments, a student and digital media center, and several hospitality and programming spaces.
In an official video publicizing the new construction, the narrator explains, “At Notre Dame we never let convention limit our dreams. We know that buildings lay a foundation for achievement. We have an audacious goal: To bring academics, athletics and student life together to awaken a sleeping giant, to maximize its potential beyond six Saturdays a year, to infuse it with life and learning every day, building an unsurpassed on campus student experience.”
Construction will begin within two years, given that the Facility Committee of the Board approves the final project and amasses the projected $400 million dollars necessary for its completion. The impact of construction on commencement remains to be seen. The time for expansion is apropos, as the university is concurrently hiring 80 new faculty members to augment the academic experience of students.
Jack B. Swarbrick, vice president and director of athletics, praised the project as one that “offers a bold vision providing emphatic evidence that the full integration of athletics into the academic mission of a university is not only possible but desirable.”
The west building will house facilities dedicated to student life, including meeting space for club organizations, a recreation center and a career center. The east building will contain the anthropology and psychology departments as well as a digital media center. Finally, the south building will be a center for the Department of Music and the Sacred Music at Notre Dame Program.
Stadium club spaces in the east and west buildings will boast 3,000 to 4,000 premium seats for football games. The program’s architects and designers are working toward the multi-functionality of these spaces and emphasize that their exteriors will be a continuation of the gothic architecture which has traditionally characterized Notre Dame’s campus.
The west building will not supplant the LaFortune student center. Rather, it will expand upon the services already provided in LaFortune with its enlarged space. The main components of the student center will be graduate and undergraduate lounges, dining areas, student organization offices and recreation facilities. These fitness facilities will replace those in the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center, which will be re-made into a practice facility for the men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams. Additionally, the west building will be instrumental in making the Career Center more accessible to students, with interview and training rooms, conference areas, an employer lounge and advising offices.
Vice President of Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding told the Rover, “Over the past few months, outside consultants offered expertise in architecture, engineering, technology, food services and student life. Now that the feasibility stage is completed, we look forward to involving students more directly in the next phase of planning.”
Mary Jo Dunlap, class of ‘83, stated in an interview with the Rover, “As a Notre Dame alumna, it is always very exciting for me to see the university continue to enhance and dignify its mission of academic excellence while maintaining and honoring the history that truly makes the University of Notre Dame unique. Surrounding Notre Dame stadium with state of the art centers for academics, student life and athletics will allow for daily interactions throughout the year at a location on campus which itself is steeped in unparalleled legends and traditions. The lore of the stadium will be further enhanced by the flourishing students and faculty that visit the location as part of their ongoing academic and student life on campus.”
Chris Henry, a mechanical engineering major from the class of ‘87, likewise commented: “[B]etween me and my wife, we have many ties to Notre Dame; our yearly campus trips are meaningful and this ambitious construction takes on a special importance. Every generation likes to have something on campus they can call their own, yet it is great that the architects seek to preserve the original footprints of what Rockne built, providing a great continuity with the past.”
The facilities promise to be beautiful and greatly enhance student life, but a student who wishes to remain unnamed, ironically noted, “It is interesting that Notre Dame will raise $400 million for stadium additions but not redo the air-conditioning and ventilation systems in the old dorms.”
Kate Hardiman is a freshman living in Breen-Phillips Hall. She hopes the construction noise won’t be audible in the early morning as BP is one of the closest dorms to the stadium. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.