Since the design process began, it has been clear that the Matthew and Joyce Walsh Family Hall of Architecture would not be an ordinary building. Designed for architects and future architects, the building needed to symbolize the mission of the Notre Dame School of Architecture to educate architects and urbanists who design and build -- not just for today's needs, but also for the benefit of future generations.
The selection of John Simpson, one of the world’s leading practitioners of New Classicism and New Urbanism, as the architect raised expectations even further as his firm is known for classical public buildings that fit seamlessly in a given context. He has succeeded in designing a building that reflects the unique character of the architecture program while contributing to the harmony of other buildings on campus.
The construction of Walsh Family Hall will emphasize economy while maximizing the architectural character in keeping with the values of sustainability and conservation for the long-term life of the building.The roof of the building will shed water and snow effectively and the cornices and eaves will be emblematic of the kind of construction taught in the Schools studios and classrooms. “Walsh Family Hall will not only provide a beautiful and functional learning environment for our students, it will also serve as a model, allowing in-depth studies of timeless principles of classicism, “ said Michael Lykoudis, Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of Architecture. “The building will be a pedagogical and symbolic icon of the School’s architectural principles allowing students and faculty to point to its massing, character, and details as they teach and learn.”
Authentic sustainability is a cornerstone of the School’s curriculum - buildings must be made to last hundreds of years, not merely decades. New products and technology are only a small part of true sustainability, which begins with the design process and draws from lessons of the past related to durable construction as well as natural ventilation and lighting. Walsh Family Hall reflects these values with sustainable elements throughout the building.
To conserve energy, the floor plates shall be narrow enough that natural light reaches all the appropriate habitable spaces, especially the studios, offices and public rooms. The fenestration shall be made of operable windows where appropriate such that air can circulate freely during those days that air conditioning and heating are not required.
The interiors are envisaged to be spartan but durable with plain, concrete floors, concrete block interior walls and partitions and exposed ceilings in studios, laboratories, classrooms and the areas of public circulation. More ceremonially appropriate architectural articulation will be used for the main lobby, hall of casts, auditoriums and library. The plaza shall convey the sense of community that an architecture school aspires to foster.
The new home of the School of Architecture will be located east of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center along Holy Cross Drive, and it will include classrooms, studios, the architecture library, a workshop and a public plaza. This site is a principal gateway to campus and a prestigious location for visitors given its proximity to the front yard of campus. It is also within walking distance of the new Eddy Street Commons area, a symbol of a successful new mixed-use traditional urban development in South Bend.
The building was made possible through a generous gift from Matthew and Joyce Walsh, of Burr Ridge, Ill who have served on the School of Architecture advisory council since 1997. Matthew Walsh has been chair of that council since 2004.