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Sense of Place

The University of Notre Dame constructs the O’Neill Hall, Corbett Family Hall and Duncan Student Center

University Business, March 2018
  • A NOD TO HERITAGE—Notre Dame marked each entrance to the nearly expanded football stadium with towers that match the original structure’s design and developed a three- to four-story base for the new buildings. The university also repurposed the stadium’s bowl and weathered the redwood benches’ original seat numbers. They now serve various uses, including wall coverings and artwork framing.​

Three new buildings added 800,000 square feet to Notre Dame’s football stadium. The Indiana university touts the four-year endeavor, completed in fall 2017, as the largest construction project in its 175-year history.

Challenge: Over the years, activity surrounding the stadium had greatly diminished—except on seven days per year during football season.

In addition, the anthropology and psychology departments were “strewn across campus,” and music teachers taught in an 1870s building with poor acoustics, says Doug Marsh, vice president for facilities design and operations, and the university’s architect.

“We were also outgrowing our recreational center, and the career center was bursting at the seams.”

The university decided to expand the stadium so it could serve as a “crossroads” for these programs and to reinvigorate the surrounding area. However, the stadium couldn’t structurally support an expansion.

Solution: Designers constructed three neighboring buildings that stand independently from the stadium—separated by only 8 inches in some areas. The new nine-story academic building—Corbett Family Hall—houses the anthropology and psychology programs.

A multimedia studio, 100-seat student club space and media center round out the facility.

The two-story Duncan Student Center triples the amount of exercise equipment that was previously available to faculty, staff and students on campus. It includes a climbing wall and treadmills, which visitors no longer have to reserve. The student center also contains three restaurants, as well as a career and a media center.

The façade of the new six-story music facility O’Neill Hall—featuring acoustically optimized studios and practice rooms—supports a video board that’s 54 feet high and 95 feet wide. The 4.7 million-pixel board faces the stadium and displays the game as well as messages about the university and its mission.

A ribbon board displaying key game statistics also hangs from the outer wall.

All three buildings have multi-purpose rooms. For example, a space in the student center where people buy refreshments during athletic events can serve as a ballroom and banquet hall on non-game days. “We no longer have to bus students downtown for such events,” says Marsh.

The stadium also received updates, including widened seats, new locker rooms and postgame media areas. “We wanted to enhance the stadium for everyone,” Marsh says. “And I think it will continue to be on the bucket lists of all college football fans.”

Completed: Fall 2017

Cost: $400 million

Project team: Executive architect: S/L/A/M Collaborative (Glastonbury, CT); sports architect: HOK Architects (Chicago); early design architects: RATIO Architects (Indianapolis); planner and designer of Duncan Hall: Workshop Architects (Milwaukee); interior designer: Champalimaud Design (N.Y.); designer and build leader: Barton Malow (Portage, Ind.).