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Group discusses campus construction projects

Jenn Metz | Tuesday, November 6, 2007

University Architect Doug Marsh spoke about current campus construction projects and the seven tenets of campus planning at the Campus Life Council meeting Monday.

“We find ourselves now at a precipice,” he said. “How do we expand but keep what is precious to us?”

Current campus development projects include the expansion and renovation of the Law School and construction of Stinson-Remick Hall, Duncan Hall, Geddes Hall and the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.

The seven tenets of campus planning included in the Campus Plan published in fall of 2002 help the Office of the University Architect expand the University campus without forgetting values and tradition, Marsh said.

They include such titles as “Catholic Heritage and Sacramental Vision” – which reminds planners that Notre Dame is a place of prayer – and “Campus as Home and Academy” – which encourages planners to be mindful of the fact that the “stay-in-hall” system has created a feeling of home on campus for students.

The 2002 plan adopted what is called the “blue line,” which establishes the ultimate limit of the walkable Notre Dame campus, Marsh said. “Walkable” is defined as a 10-minute walk, he said.

“We don’t want to extend time between classes or have to rely on shuttles [to get to class on time],” he said.

One of the plan’s main goals was to keep the campus from “sprawling,” he said. “We want LaFortune to be both the geographical and social center of campus.”

Still, campus construction is humming along.

The 85,000-square-foot addition to the Law School currently underway will take an estimated 13 months to complete. The finished building will contain a grand arch under which pedestrians can walk and the Band of the Fighting Irish can march, Marsh said.

When construction on the addition is finished, classrooms and offices in the existing building will be relocated to the new building, and the existing building will be renovated to contain a law library, he said.

“We want to make the entire building look like it’s been there forever,” Marsh said.

In the next week, a fence will go up around the old University Club building on Notre Dame Ave., where construction will begin on Stinson-Remick Hall, a multidisciplinary home for engineering. The project will last about two years. When finished, the building will house a First Year of Studies learning center as well as a research center, Marsh said.

Duncan Hall, currently under construction near West Quad, will contain about 230 beds, he said, and will be ready for occupancy in the next school year. The University is currently deciding how to move men into the new hall. Once students are relocated, work will begin to convert dorm rooms back to their original purpose of lounges and social spaces in existing halls, Marsh said.

“Our plan after four new buildings is to give students more square footage,” he said.

Geddes Hall will be a new Center for Social Concerns (CSC) and Institute for Church Life (ICL) building located at the site of the current CSC building. When construction begins in January, the CSC will temporarily relocate to the old ROTC building.

Marsh acknowledged the construction could prove bothersome to buildings that neighbor the CSC.

“Breen-Phillips and Siegfried will have to be patient,” he said.

Geddes Hall will be four stories and will include “flex space” – with room for the CSC or ICL to expand or to house journals interested in working with the organizations.

More than 600 trees were planted on campus during the summer, Marsh said. Many were planted on South Quad, in order to return that part of campus to its appearance before Dutch elm disease thinned the canopy of elm trees that lined the quad’s perimeter, he said.

The new trees, funded by an anonymous donor, “dense up the trees around the quad by half,” he said. The group includes various kinds of elms resistant to Dutch elm disease.

The Office of the University Architect is participating in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system, a voluntary accreditation program through the United States Green Building Council.

Buildings are accredited based on points on a scorecard, Marsh said. The University adopted LEED as a planning tool for new design and construction. A LEED certification is being sought for the new engineering building. Marsh and staff members of his office are studying for the LEED accreditation exam.

The number of Indiana buildings considered LEED certified was 19 as of July 2006, while California was home to 480 certified buildings.

In other CLC news:

u Task force leaders gave presentations on their work over the last week. Chief executive assistant Sheena Plamoottil presented on the Task Force on Campus Environment, which is evaluating its first Green Summit. She said the next two summits are tentatively scheduled for Nov. 12 and Nov. 27.

u Student body vice president Maris Braun, chair of the Task Force on Student Development, said she is in initial discussions about a potential February Honor Code awareness week and is working to coordinate efforts with the Notre Dame Code of Honor Committee.

u Keenan senator Gus Gari presented on the Task Force on Community Relations, which is finalizing the text of Notre Dame’s version of the Good Neighbor Guide, modeled after a University of Virginia pamphlet of the same name. He said the group is conducting primary research on the issue of taxis on campus and is looking at and evaluating taxi policies at other universities.