Student architecture exhibit reimagines South Bend’s west bank

Author: Erin Blasko

“Revisioning South Bend’s West Bank,” a 90-day exhibition of student work from the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, will open with a presentation and reception at 10 a.m. Thursday (Jan. 17) in the lobby of the County-City Building, 227 W. Jefferson Blvd., South Bend.

Organized in collaboration with the city of South Bend, the exhibition will feature student designs and concepts for the west bank of the St. Joseph River downtown, from Colfax Avenue on the north to Monroe Street/Lincoln Way East on the south.

Formerly composed of typical streets and blocks, the area was redeveloped as two super blocks during the 1970s and 1980s to accommodate a convention center, office park and post office, along with acres of parking, as part of urban renewal. The office park has gone through several rounds of ownership over the years and the post office may soon relocate.

Led by associate professor of architecture Lucien Steil, the students worked with city staff to reimagine the area within a traditional framework of blocks, streets and squares, with an emphasis on density and connectivity within a built environment that blends public, residential, commercial and recreational uses in the mold of Eddy Street Commons.

The resulting plans and drawings will be preserved within the School of Architecture and serve as inspiration for future planning and development in the area.

“This project offers an emblematic vision of South Bend as a ‘creative city’ featuring a vibrant waterfront and an inspiring, urban ‘college town,’ acknowledging the extraordinary synergies between the University of Notre Dame and the city of South Bend,” Steil said.

Tim Corcoran, director of planning for South Bend, said, “The Notre Dame School of Architecture is a valued community asset and a source of ideas and inspiration for the city. Together we conceived of this master planning exercise as a way to ground the students in the practical realities of urban design and planning, while allowing them to utilize their classical training to propose aspirational solutions.”

The School of Architecture has a history of collaboration with the city of South Bend.

The school previously worked with City Center Associates, the precursor to Downtown South Bend Inc., to develop a master plan for the city. More recently, it developed an interactive tool — Building South Bend: Past, Present & Future — that offers historical images, blueprints and documents of the city along with interactive maps and 3D models.

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Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127,

Originally published by Erin Blasko at on January 16, 2019.