Students revitalize a neighborhood

Author: Meaghan Veselik

Just one year ago, the lot at the corner of Lindsey and Cottage Grove streets on the northwest side of South Bend was barren. Today, a brand new, three-bedroom, three-bathroom American Foursquare style home now fills that once-vacant lot – blending in perfectly among the early 20th century homes, with its wrap-around porch and hard wood floors. 

Thanks to the vision and talent of several students in the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture working in collaboration with South Bend’s Near Northwest Neighborhood Association (NNNA), the home was designed and built as a way to bolster the NNNA’s efforts to preserve and revitalize the second oldest neighborhood in South Bend, which has become a growing community of Notre Dame graduate students and their families. The group plans to sell the home under market value to continue attracting other growing families — particularly graduate student families – to the neighborhood.

Mandy Miller is a recent Notre Dame architecture graduate and past president of Students for New Urbanism (SNU), a Notre Dame group that provides education on the New Urbanist planning approach and supports New Urbanism initiatives in the local community. Miller led the Notre Dame design team responsible for the new home, a first for the student group, which had designed several houses, but had never seen one of their designs actually built. 

“We went through the process but with no guarantee when we started that we were going to see a house get built,” Miller says. “We started with what we call a schematic design phase, and worked through different options, different alternatives, and met with the NNNA a couple of times to get feedback not only from them, but also from neighbors and people responsible for the property development on different committees,” Miller says. 

Recognizing that every community conveys its own culture, Miller and fellow students walked the neighborhood and took dozens of photos to capture the feel of the area. Only then could they envision the type of home they would design that would contribute to the character of the neighborhood. 

“When you look around the neighborhood, you can really see some of the details that make it what it is. We start with the community and architecture follows,” Miller says. 

The corner lot was ideal for this project, Miller notes, due to its prominence in the neighborhood and because it’s “a really important part of the urban fabric.”