South Bend, IN – Four years in the making, the University of Notre Dame (UND) has completed its largest construction project in the school’s 175-year history. The Campus Crossroads project, which opened in fall 2017, is made up of three adjacent buildings anchored to the south, east, and west sides of the Notre Dame Stadium: O’Neill Hall, Corbett Family Hall, and Duncan Student Center.
These new buildings add more than 800,000sf of classroom, research, student life, fitness, digital media, performance, meeting, event, and hospitality space, strengthening the stadium’s connectivity to the surrounding campus and drawing students in year ’round.
The S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM), the executive architect for this $400 million new construction endeavor, led the programming, planning, and design through construction of the Campus Crossroads project. Working alongside SLAM is a complex and diverse team of industry partners that includes HOK Architects as the sports architects; RATIO teamed on early phases of design; Workshop Architects led the planning and design of the Student Center in Duncan Hall; and Champalimaud provided interior design for the South Club, University suites, and 9th floor clubs. Barton Malow is the design-build leader of the Campus Crossroads.
O’Neill Hall, on the south side of the stadium, is a six-story, state-of the-art academic facility devoted to music and includes:
- LaBar Family Performance and Rehearsal Halls on the first floor.
- Michuda Family Visiting Artist Rehearsal Hall as well as a lecture hall and music library on the third level.
- Music departmental offices, teaching studios, and practice rooms on the fourth and fifth levels.
- The Sacred Music program has dedicated space and has recently added a new Ph.D. program.
- South Club hospitality space on the fourth level.
For the first time at Notre Dame stadium, high-resolution video technology and improved sound systems are provided to enhance the game-day experience. On the north façade of O’Neill Hall is a new video board which is 54 feet high and 95 feet wide, with 4.7 million physical pixels, providing superior high-definition images. The new sideline ribbon boards display key game statistics.
Corbett Family Hall is a nine-story academic building that includes:
- The Rex and Alice Martin Digital Media Center and Notre Dame Studios on the first floor.
- Department of Anthropology on the second floor.
- Department of Psychology offices, research labs, and classrooms on the third, fourth, and fifth levels.
- Downes Club hospitality space on the seventh and eighth floors; the Club will serve as a 100-seat classroom on non-game day.
- Writing press and radio facilities opened in 2016, as well as additional hospitality areas, on the ninth floor.
The Duncan Student Center stands nine-stories and includes a variety of student life and hospitality spaces:
- A Student Center on the building’s first and second floor.
- Hagerty Family Café, Midfield Commons, Innovation Lounge, and several other new restaurants on the first floor.
- Grojean Family Loft, a student media center, and climbing wall on the second floor.
- The Tripp and Sheila Smith Center for Recreational Sports on the third and fourth level.
- The Meruelo Family Career Center on the fifth floor.
- The 1842 Club on what is termed level 5.5.
- A new broadcast position for NBC Sports and Dahnke Ballroom on the seventh level.
- Rasmus Family Club on level eight.
- Football coaches and game management booths, University boxes and an additional hospitality club on the ninth floor.
- On the lower level is a large commissary kitchen and trucking garage to support game-day and other events.
All student life and academic departments will be occupied in January 2018, except for the Psychology Department in Corbett Family Hall, which is anticipated to be occupied later in the spring.
“This has truly been a collaborative and inspiring project that begins a new chapter in the University of Notre Dame’s history, that architecturally draws on the inspiration of the original stadium completed in 1930,” says Steve Ansel, AIA, design principal, SLAM.
“The vastness of this project can easily be translated through the staggering number of bricks, steel and tradesman it took to create the Campus Crossroads. But what’s even more compelling is the school’s vision and purpose in bringing new life to this iconic stadium that will create a new legacy through the experiences shaped by students, faculty and community year-round,” said Ansel.
Envisioning the Campus Crossroads
SLAM’s 20-year relationship with the University of Notre Dame spans several groundbreaking projects that revived the signature Notre Dame Collegiate Gothic architecture, including the Eck Center in 1998, Coleman-Morse Center in 2001, Jordan Hall of Science in 2006, and the Notre Dame Law School in 2010.
As a trusted partner of UND, SLAM was selected to lead the design team for a Feasibility Study on the Campus Crossroads project that began in the summer of 2013. SLAM engaged university leadership, administration, faculty, academics and student affairs in determining what programs belonged in the Campus Crossroads project, while ensuring the entities were reflected in the strategic goals of Notre Dame. An initial list of 20 academic and non-academic departments, including student life, recreational sports and career services, were considered. SLAM helped to identify those departments that would make the Campus Crossroads its home, through programming, planning and testing of the various building designs.
The study rendered the “big idea” of successfully integrating the academic and campus life to the gameday experience. For example, Duncan Student Center incorporates gameday with hospitality and campus life. This included a new student center, recreational sports and career services, as well as provisions for a student affairs ballroom, all located at the heart of the greatest concentration of daily academic activity for students and faculty.
“Three years ago, we embarked on an audacious plan to combine academic, athletics and student life to invigorate a part of campus year-round beyond seven Saturdays a year,” says Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. president, UND. “The Campus Crossroads project is nearly complete and will provide students with a setting for discovery, community, performance and an enhanced gameday experience for football. But it’s Notre Dame’s special strength to dream bold dreams and then realize those dreams of the hard work of many. Today we celebrate not simply new buildings, but the expression of Notre Dame’s commitment to a distinctive kind of education, one that develops mind, body and spirit for service to the world.”
Composition of Campus Crossroads
A hallmark of SLAM’s work at Notre Dame has been the pursuit of a deep understanding of the University’s campus and architectural heritage, while seeking inspiration for new buildings from that rich legacy. That legacy began with the University’s founding and was continuously refined through a series of buildings completed in the first half of the 20th century. The characteristic architectural style of the campus can be defined as Collegiate Gothic, but the name alone does not do it justice. The manner in which gothic antecedents are used at Notre Dame are specific to that campus.
First there is the characteristic palette of materials, a buff blended brick whose origin is traced to the University’s buildings—a brick made using the clay dug from the lakes on campus. That blend has evolved over the decades to become a rich combination of colors, tans, greys, browns and reds, that gives an overall tan to buff color. To the brick blend is added a warm limestone color trim and detail as well as slate roofs.
The gothic at Notre Dame is simplified and not highly ornamented. It has an austerity and strength that is appropriate to its campus setting. While so much of the campus heritage at Notre Dame derives from those gothic antecedents, the stadium required a different response.
While the palette of campus materials was fully deployed in the Campus Crossroads project, the inspiration for the design of the new buildings looked to the original iconic stadium completed in 1930, often referred to as the Rockne stadium, named after the great coach who established the national reputation of Notre Dame football and convinced the University to build that structure.
The original exterior of the Rockne stadium can be seen inside the main concourse of the stadium expansion that was completed in the 1990s. SLAM also studied original drawings to further understand the key design elements of the original stadium. The Rockne stadium is not gothic, but it does have a number of characteristic elements which include:
- A repetition of a three-window bays marked with strong projecting vertical pilasters and deeply recessed windows, creating a lively shade and shadow effect on each element of the façade.
- In each bay, tall windows are capped with arches. Above the arched windows is a parapet that features a frieze of vertical niches, repeated along the length of the façades.
- Contrasting stone details are used at the base, copings, and window sills. A distinctive geometric ornamental detail is located at the top of the projecting pilasters.
- The Rockne stadium also included tower elements marking key entrances with a subtle evolution of the typical bay details seen in the rest of the structure.
While the new buildings of the Campus Crossroads did not replicate the elements of the original stadium, they derived inspiration from that structure.
The Crossroads required structures to be up to nine stories tall. The challenge was finding a way to maintain human scale appropriate to a campus of mostly three and four-story buildings. To respect the original stadium and campus, a three to four-story base was developed for the new buildings. Entrances are marked by tower elements that are consistent with the original stadium.
The upper stories of the Crossroads buildings progressively step back from the buildings’ base, and are meant to appear as if they unfold from those lower stories. The repetition of vertically organized three-window bays, each with a deep articulation of the masonry façade emphasize shade and shadow and provide a rich articulation of the exterior without over-reliance on applied ornament.
There are many interior spaces that sought inspiration from Notre Dame’s heritage and are also meant to unify the new Campus Crossroads’ exteriors with those interior spaces. These range from the monumental Danhke Ballroom located in the Duncan Student Center to far more intimate spaces, such as the O’Neill Hall lobbies and Recital Hall. Millwork and stone details recall the composition and forms of the building exteriors while providing warm materiality and human scale.
An interesting interior application was the reuse of salvaged benches from the stadium bowl. The weathered redwood benches with original seat numbers intact, provide an historic artifact applied to many interior spaces.
All of these elements are intended to recall the heritage of the iconic Rockne Stadium while providing a powerful new presence on the Notre Dame campus.
Academics, Athletics, and Student Life
Concurrent to the design and construction of the three new buildings, were enhancements to the stadium, completed in time for Notre Dame’s kick off game on Sept. 2, 2017. Upgrades included widening of bowl seats, new team locker rooms, postgame media areas, and renovations to the traditional tunnel entrance for the Irish squad, as well as addition of a new visiting team tunnel.
The buildings are not yet fully occupied; however, year-round use is evidenced by non-gameday activities occurring in the hospitality and club spaces located above the rim of the stadium bowl. On the seventh and eighth floors of Duncan Student Center and Corbett Family Hall, hospitality and club spaces were designed with the flexibility for multipurpose uses, such as classrooms, meetings, conference and events. On the fourth level of O’Neill Hall is the South Club, in addition to gameday use, space will be available for receptions and events.
Other premium spaces such as the Dahnke Ballroom on the seventh level of Duncan will serve as the student affairs ballroom with the capacity to host other events. The Downes Club in Corbett will serve as a 100-seat classroom on non-gamedays. Terraces on each building offer views of the playing field and campus and will be available for University and community use.
The University is committed to continuously improving campus life as well as striving to be the best educators, researchers and innovators. The three new buildings of the Campus Crossroads project will bring together diverse disciplines to engage in a collaborative and multidisciplinary experience they couldn’t achieve alone.