Biggest Notre Dame project ever a 'crossroads' of academics, student life and athletics

Author: Dennis Brown

project_rendering_400 Campus Crossroads Project
(click for larger image)

The University of Notre Dame announced Wednesday (Jan. 29) the largest building project in its 172-year history, integrating the academy, student life and athletics with the construction of more than 750,000 square feet in three new buildings attached to the west, east and south sides of the University’s iconic football stadium, at a projected cost of $400 million.

The Campus Crossroads Project will add significant academic space at the same time the University is hiring 80 new faculty to build on Notre Dame’s existing strengths.

“The integrated nature of this project 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,” Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, said in the letter to the campus community Wednesday.

“At a time when some are questioning the future of the residential college campus,” he said, “we believe the investment in these new facilities, which will house new research and teaching venues, several academic departments, a much-expanded student center, a digital media center and a variety of hospitality and programming spaces, will greatly enhance the campus experience for all those who study, live, work here and visit Notre Dame, as well as new amenities that will deliver outstanding game day experiences for Irish fans. Since its founding, one of Notre Dame’s greatest assets has been the boldness of its vision — the ability to see possibilities and connections where others saw only obstacles and fragmentation. This project continues that boldness of vision.”

Campus Crossroads Project Stadium west view West view

Construction will begin in two years or sooner and take approximately 33 months to complete.

“Notre Dame alumni and friends have always displayed remarkable generosity,” Father Jenkins said. “Upon reviewing the extraordinary plans we have in place for advancing the mission of their University, I’m certain that benefaction combined with stewardship will allow us to move forward on this project sooner rather than later.”

Details of the project are available at

Notre Dame announced last spring the launch of a feasibility study into expanding the use of the iconic Notre Dame Stadium, which over its 83-year history has become one of the most centrally located facilities on campus, and yet one that heretofore has been used just 10 to 12 times annually. Eighty-four University faculty and staff devoted more than 3,125 hours serving on an oversight committee and eight working groups to examine if and how to make the stadium a year-round hub for academic and student life. They were assisted by outside consultants with expertise in architecture, engineering, technology, food services and student life.

“Father John, our provost, Tom Burish, and I are indebted to the many individuals who have brought this concept to life,” said John Affleck-Graves, the University’s executive vice president. “To put together a plan of this magnitude, with so many varied interests involved, in such a short time was a huge challenge, and yet our faculty and staff rose to the occasion in evaluating and proposing the most appropriate programs and uses for these new buildings.”

The plan features three new structures attached to and serving the stadium — a west building for student life services, including space for student organizations, a recreation center and career center; an east building for the anthropology and psychology departments and a digital media center; and a south building for the Department of Music and the Sacred Music at Notre Dame program. The east and west buildings also will include some 3,000 to 4,000 premium seats for the football stadium with supporting club amenities.

“At its peak, we anticipate employing well over 300 skilled crafts people a day,” Affleck-Graves said.

Campus Crossroads Project cafe Campus Crossroads Project new student center

Central components to the plan include the addition of meeting, research and teaching venues, as well as facilities that do not currently exist on campus, such as a 500-person ballroom. The various new spaces also will be designed to accommodate multiple functions for multiple departments, such as the stadium club spaces, which also will be used for student services, academic event space, classrooms, conferences, career fairs and other campus and community activities.

“Notre Dame’s students and faculty are at the heart of our educational mission, and this new development project creates a number of expanded and much-needed facilities where they can study, perform, conduct research and collaborate in new ways, inside and outside the classroom,” Burish said. “The location of this space in an increasingly busy part of campus provides many additional benefits for the departments and programs involved.”

“At Notre Dame, we are deeply aware that student development and formation also occurs beyond the classroom,” said Erin Hoffmann Harding, vice president for student affairs. “This facility provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to enrich the experiences of our students in exciting and innovative ways.”

“At a time when so many would call into question the viability of the collegiate sports model in America, it is fitting that Notre Dame, a perennial leader in the measures of academic performance by student-athletes, 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," said Jack B. Swarbrick, vice president and director of athletics. “Coach Brian Kelly and I are thrilled that one of the most famous sports venues in the world will now also be known as one of the most innovative educational facilities.”

The exterior design of the Campus Crossroads Project is inspired by Knute Rockne’s original Notre Dame Stadium — which still stands today as the core of the facility — and is wed with materials, massing and details taken from many of the Collegiate Gothic buildings on the campus.

The area between the stadium and the DeBartolo Hall classroom building will become a pedestrian plaza with walkways, trees, planters and seating areas. The entire project will include sustainability practices consistent with other University projects.

The project also will enhance the football fan experience on game days. A variety of premium seating options — both indoor and outdoor and mostly club seats — will be available on three upper levels on the east and west sides. A hospitality area also is planned for the new building on the south end of the stadium.

Football fans, especially younger ones, have expressed a clear desire to have better access to data and video when attending Notre Dame games. Some of that will be addressed through enhanced broadband connectivity and some by the introduction of video, though the shape that will take has not yet been finalized. However, to the extent the University provides video, whether in the concourse or in the stadium itself — similar to the philosophy in Purcell Pavilion and the Compton Family Ice Arena — there will be no commercial signage or advertising.

Features of the three new buildings include:

West building

Campus Crossroads Project west building West building

Space designed to enhance student development and formation will dominate the nine-story west building. Planning has ensured that the new facility will complement the student organization space and administrative offices located in the historic LaFortune Student Center.

Levels 1 and 2: Flexible, state-of-the-art meeting rooms, graduate and undergraduate student lounges, a dining area, student organization space and administrative offices.

Levels 3 and 4: Recreational sports and fitness facilities (the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center will become the practice home for the men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams).

Level 5: A career services center, centralized and expanded with more than 40 interview rooms, multiple training rooms and conference areas, an employer lounge and advising offices. The existing working press space on this level will be integrated into a premium seating area for the stadium.

Level 6: Mechanical support.

Level 7: A 500-seat student ballroom, club seating for football and booths for NBC Sports telecasts of home football games. Student-oriented programming will have priority booking for non-game weekends.

Level 8: Premium stadium seats and terraces that will look onto the campus and the playing field.

Level 9: Club seating, boxes for home and visiting coaches, security booths and boxes for administrative and athletic department leaders.

Basement: Food service space for the three new buildings and the stadium.

South building

Campus Crossroads Project south building South building

The relocation of the Department of Music and Sacred Music Program will provide much needed new and state-of-the-art space for these growing programs. It also will put music into close proximity to other performing arts departments and programs.

Level 1: Recital and rehearsal halls and the Leahy gate grand entrance to the stadium.

Level 2: A large music library, to be relocated from the Hesburgh Library, classrooms and rehearsal and tutoring rooms.

Level 3: A 350-person club/lounge.

Level 4: Department of Music offices, practice rooms and storage.

Level 5: The Sacred Music Program, offices, organ practice rooms and storage.

Level 6: Mechanical, with a scoreboard on the exterior.

East building

Campus Crossroads Project east building East building

Offices and laboratories for the Departments of Anthropology and Psychology, which are housed in a variety of buildings on campus, now will be in one place and located closer to other social sciences departments, the College of Science and international institutes.

Level 1: A digital media center with a 2,000-square-foot studio and production, teaching, learning, research and scholarship facilities for use by faculty, students, University Communications, athletics and information technology will position Notre Dame as a national leader in what is a rapidly expanding and increasingly important component of higher education. A control room will support faith-based programming, such as Masses at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, as well as athletics events, performing arts presentations and academic lectures and speeches.

Level 2: Anthropology offices, administrative space, conference and tutoring areas and multifunction research and teaching labs.

Levels 3, 4 and 5: Psychology offices, classrooms, labs, computer rooms and a student lounge.

Level 6: Mechanical support.

Level 7: Outdoor club seating for football, outdoor terraces and a large space that will double as a club area and flexible classroom.

Level 8: Outdoor club seating for football.

Level 9: Working press box, radio booths and a club area with indoor and outdoor premium seating for football.

Notre Dame Stadium opened in 1930 and was expanded to its current configuration in 1997. One of the nation’s most iconic athletics venues, it is used for home football games, the University Commencement Ceremony and several other events.

The lead architectural firm for the Crossroads Project is The S/L/A/M Collaborative. RATIO Architects is the co-designer. Other consultants include Workshop Architects for the student center and 360 Architecture for the recreation, fitness and hospitality areas. The contractor is Barton Malow Co.

Contact: Dennis Brown, assistant vice president for public information, 574-631-8696

NOTE TO THE MEDIA: See below a link to downloadable renderings of the Campus Crossroads Project, including a project model with Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University’s president, looking on. The last rendering is of inside the new student center. It depicts a three-story rock climbing wall, a coffee shop on the lower level and a running track suspended above.