Notre Dame’s ongoing expansion in light of the university’s Catholic mission


Notre Dame will spend over $720 million on various construction projects over the next five years, ‘building for a future’ that may be drastically different.

Recent campus visitors may have noticed the various construction sites interspersed between class buildings, parking lots, and dorms.  Doug Marsh, the university’s architect and a 1982 graduate, presented the various new construction projects in an hour long video entitled “Building Notre Dame’s Future.”

Marsh showcased pictures of Notre Dame, which was much smaller before campus expansion began under Father Hesburgh’s direction in the 1960s and subsequent decades.  The scenic, aerial snapshots display God Quad at a time when its southern edge bordered farmland stretching far into the distance.

Since its founding, the campus has grown at an average rate of two percent per year, Marsh stated, with a sharp increase in the 1960s when construction for the Joyce Center and Hesburgh Library began.  The projects of the next five years will be a “spurt in the rate of growth,” according to Marsh; however, vis-à-vis the 1960 construction, he believes it is “not an unprecedented spurt.”

The new structures planned are two research buildings, two residence halls, a school of architecture, an art museum, a social science hall, an international institutes hall, and three 10-story buildings attached to the stadium that comprise the Campus Crossroads Project, totaling 11 new structures.  The majority of the focus on future construction has centered around the $410 million Campus Crossroads Project, but the other 8 buildings will also dramatically alter the shape of campus.

The two research buildings are situated in the Hesburgh Library parking lot and their construction is already well underway.  Comprising 10 percent of total parking on campus, the library parking lot will be replaced by a new research quad extending the eastern edge of campus.

Both 217,000 square foot buildings will house science and engineering labs and research technology.  Marsh believes the east research quad will be completed in two years and that its new technological capacity will draw many scientists and researchers to Notre Dame.

Marsh stated in the video that members of the Notre Dame community must “think about the needs for the growing Notre Dame and particularly our renewed emphasis and desires to become absolutely outstanding in research.”

It is unclear, however, whether this intense focus on research necessitates such an expansion of campus.  Moreover, the elimination of the library parking lot creates a dearth of parking spaces, an issue Marsh vaguely noted will be rectified by some sort of “parking structure” located near Stepan Center.

Marsh believes the two new residence halls will “continue the community of Mod Quad and complement our current residence halls” despite being modeled in the architectural style of Duncan and Ryan Halls, markedly different from current Mod Quad dorms.  Project managers expect to break ground on these buildings in the spring of 2016.

The new school of architecture will be located south of the Joyce parking lot on the very edge of campus.  Standing alone except for the planned art museum, the school of architecture will be the furthest classroom building from the center of campus.  During the question and answer session at the end of the video, an individual raised the concern that the location of this new building further isolates architecture students, to which Marsh responded that many “archies” live off campus.

Duncan Stroik, Professor of Architecture, provided some insights in an interview with the Rover: “How crucial is a beautiful campus and up-to-date buildings in helping students get a first rate education?  Not as important as top professors, but the environment can set the tone and offer high quality buildings in which to learn, discuss, and do research,” Stroik said.  “Campus architecture is something that will continue to influence students long after we are gone, for good or ill.”

The administration has been reticent concerning the use of vacated building spaces such as Bond Hall, Haggar Hall, and Flanner Hall.  These buildings currently house the school of architecture, psychology department, and Career Center, respectively.  In the future, the latter two will be incorporated into the Campus Crossroads’ stadium additions.  Marsh stated that committees are currently evaluating the vacated spaces and what needs it may serve in the future; however, he said that “it will be a task to repurpose them.”

In light of this week’s Center for Ethics and Culture’s Fall Conference entitled “Responding to the Needs of the Poor,” the university must recognize its role as an exemplar of Catholic social teaching especially as it pertains to the needs of the less fortunate.  Stewardship of the resources with which a group has been blessed is the focus of any Catholic institution, especially one as large as Notre Dame.

The $720 million in construction projects have commenced with barely the blink of an eye, yet some are concerned with what seems to be unbounded sprawling growth.

Daraa Jalili, a sophomore in St. Edwards Hall, spoke with the Rover about campus expansion.

“Growth is healthy and is certainly necessary for a university to pursue its goal of enhancing its position as a leading research institution; however, what is being proposed is unfocused and haphazard in both the physical placement of the structures and their general design,” he said.  “As far as the expansion of campus reflecting on the future direction of the university, I cannot say much.  Research is being used to justify to the expansion, yet there is little room on campus for transparency or meaningful debate.”

Those justifying the various campus expansion projects state that they are satiating the needs of Notre Dame’s student body and academic departments.  Careful consideration of the changing face of campus and stewardship of resources may help ensure that the desires of the few are not achieved at the expense of the many.

Kate Hardiman is a sophomore PLS and PPE minor living in Breen-Phillips Hall.  Researching for her article led her to the conclusion that her dorm on North Quad will soon quite literally be the center of campus due to the growth of Mod Quad and the creation of East Quad. Contact her at