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Professor emeritus dies at 89

Observer Staff Report | Friday, March 30, 2012

Jaime Juan José Bellalta, professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Notre Dame, died March 20 at his home in Brookline, Mass. He was 89 years old.

A native of Santiago, Chile, Bellalta joined the architecture faculty at Notre Dame in 1976 after teaching architecture and urban design at his alma mater, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, from 1968 to 1975. His wife, the late Esmée Bellalta, was also a member of the Notre Dame faculty.

Throughout his career as an architect, researcher and professor, Bellalta was especially focused on the design and development of affordable and low-income housing. His interest in this area of work stemmed from his commitments to Catholic faith and social justice, according to a University press release.

After studying at the Pontificia Universidad Católica, Bellalta also studied at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and the University of London. He also practiced privately during those years and served as director of Chile’s National Urban Renewal Agency and as executive director of the Academy of Christian Humanism.

Bellalta’s award-winning design for the Benedictine monastery in Las Condes, Santiago, is one of Chile’s National Historic Architectural Monuments.

Bellalta is survived by 10 children, 28 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. A Mass in his memory will be celebrated today at 9:30 a.m. in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor may be made to the Holy Cross Missions, P.O. Box 543, Notre Dame, IN, 46556.