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McKenna Hall undergoes two-year renovation project

| Thursday, September 5, 2019

Driving down North Notre Dame Avenue, people may notice an empty construction site in place of a former hub for various types of debate and discussion on campus.

That’s because McKenna Hall, Notre Dame’s on-campus conference center and former home of the Institute for Latino Studies, is undergoing a two-year reconstruction project and isn’t projected to reopen until fall 2021. The original hall, built in 1966, was demolished July 22 to begin the construction.

Anna Mason | The Observer
McKenna Hall, the University’s conference center situated on Notre Dame Avenue across from the Morris Inn, is currently undergoing an extensive renovation. The revamped building will open in 2021.

With an original area of 64,000 square feet, McKenna will be expanded to have roughly 85,000 square feet, according to Mike Daly, project manager for the reconstruction.

The renovated hall will continue to serve as a conference center, but will also house the Notre Dame Enrollment Division, comprised of the Office of Outreach and Engagement Recruitment, the Office of Pre-College Programs, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Office of Financial Aid, the Office of Student Accounts, the Office of Student Employment, the Department of Strategic Services, the Department of Recruitment and Communications and the Department of Division Research.

“The additional square footage allows for the entire Enrollment Division to be added into the building,” Daly said in an email. “The amount of space dedicated to the conference portion of the building will be similar to what the original McKenna Hall contained.”

With regard to the timing of the reconstruction, Daly quoted the adage “there is no time like the present.”

“We know that to wait for a later date in the future to build the building we would see some amount of inflation,” Daly said. “The Enrollment [Division] that is going to be accommodated are presently located in several buildings and to get them in a single facility is appealing. The last point is that while the existing McKenna Hall has served the University well, it was time to make significant investments into the technology that was in the building.”

In addition to the conference center, McKenna also housed the Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies. That group is currently situated in Bond Hall, which previously served as home of the University’s architecture program before the School of Architecture moved to Walsh Family Hall.

There currently are no plans for Latino Studies to move back into McKenna Hall when it reopens in 2021, Daly said.

Daly said the tunnel running under Notre Dame Avenue between McKenna Hall and the Morris Inn will reopen once the construction is complete.

“The pedestrian tunnel from the Morris Inn will be connected to the new building much like it does at the existing building now,” he said. “Presently, it is blocked off and a small portion will be removed, then rebuilt once the new building is in place.”

The construction site is self-contained and Daly noted he does not anticipate it will significantly impact students, faculty or staff. VenueND, Notre Dame’s reservation and event services team, is working to provide alternative venues for conferences and special events during the construction, he said.

“We do expect to see a bit more construction traffic on Notre Dame [Avenue] as that is how the contractors will access the site, but there is room on the site to contain all of the construction-related equipment and deliveries,” he said. “Pedestrians can still move east and west along the north side of the site so pedestrian traffic should not be impeded.”

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About Andrew Cameron

Andrew is a senior from Orange County, California. He is an associate news editor at the Observer, and is majoring in Biological Sciences and English. While he has greatly enjoyed his time at Notre Dame, during the winter months he often wonders why he ever left the perennial warmth of Southern California.

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