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North Lodge: Campus hodgepodge

| Thursday, March 4, 2021

Maggie Klaers | The Observer

In an age of elbow bumps, overflowing trash cans and social distance previously unimaginable, Notre Dame students begged for something more.

The answer was Quad Lodges. 

Planted on both North and South Quads are metal-beamed structures with tarp roofs, glass walls and wood paneled flooring. However, somewhere behind the hand sanitizing stations and jumbo fans, you can find the Quad Lodge Mystique. 

While South Lodge’s inflatable fire pits, wildlife portraits and thick blankets evoke a rustic cabin in the woods, Notre Dame’s Instagram describes North Lodge as a “warm, safe hangout with an art house vibe.” This is probably due to the paper snowflakes, (student-drawn?) paintings and sofas. At times, it does feel like Notre Dame just perused a bunch of yard sales and bought whatever caught their eye at the moment, but I like it.

A few design choices are questionable; the three metal dividers in North Lodge look like something you’d find in a dimly-lit, asbestos-ridden basement. The artificial fireplaces allow you to change the intensity of flames while you watch the flat screen televisions placed on top. They show “Dateline,” dog show training and children’s cartoons on weekday afternoons. The hedges surrounding the three blue-stained wooden table and chair sets seem like they’re straight out of the Triwizard Tournament. 

Is the artificial potted tree placed in front of the metal heater with a “DANGER NO TRESPASSING” sign zip tied to its surrounding gate supposed to make me feel like I’m in nature? It doesn’t, unless you define “nature” as the opening scene of “Jurassic Park.” But there’s also something quite charming about the seemingly-random interior. 

The navy and tan adirondack chairs, repurposed from Library and South Lawns, are sleek and classy in their new home. In this COVID-era, the furniture spacing in the lodge is generously close, enabling friends to chat, play the board games held at the back desk and conspire how to raise enough money to purchase one of the egg chairs for their dorm rooms.

Irish Woodworks has adorned the lodge with its a-game. Wooden Notre Dame logos, a “Play Like a Champion Today” sign and an intricately-designed eight-foot-tall Touchdown Jesus mural make the area feel warm and intimate. Irish Woodworks also discovered the most efficient way to build walls: with rope. The two rope-walled structures give the perfect balance of privacy and visibility. 

I am especially intrigued by the stage at the head of North Lodge. Elevated by a platform with old school ND logo’d carpet, the area looks like an Edisonian lab in a picture frame. A collection of different-sized light bulbs rest on black poles that pierce through the gold-painted frame that surrounds them. The reasoning behind this design is unintelligible, but this would, however, be a good backdrop for a guitar serenade in a steampunk ’80s film.

The shuffleboard table and dart boards are fun fixtures, and the back desk stores tons of replaceable dart tips, if you are as inept at hitting the board as I am.

North Lodge either feels like a sauna or an igloo — the exit door never seems to stay closed — but it is always bright and inviting inside with overhanging string lights and color-changing LED lights. On weekends, the speakers by the stage blast music. The TVs support video games. There is a raccoon pillow and interesting coffee table golden ring sculptures. The circularly groomed artificial bushes provide a sense of order to our chaotic world. The cushions in the egg chairs feel like a warm hug.

It’s quirky, but it feels collegiate. And its lack of cohesive style means that it has something for everyone to enjoy. 

In order to fully complete the alleged “art house vibe,” it could use a built-in coffee shop, but nonetheless, North Lodge is a generous attempt, in the midst of heightened campus restrictions, to enable Notre Dame students to gather together to escape the outside world. Stay Like a Champion Today.

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