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A few straggling thoughts on NDXC

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 08:22

I don't think the inclusion of a rec center and student center in the same building is a head scratcher by any means. I do have misgivings, though, about just how large these buildings are going to seem. The west building (and the south building, really) is going to be have a profile about the size of the old cook county hospital (below). The bulk of this thing is just going to dwarf DeBart , Mendoza and the other surrounding structures:


My overall worry regarding the bulk of the design is the fact that you have a few slam dunk ideas (new student center at the heart of campus - 100% winner!) and then some layup ideas (swap a hoops facility with rec space in the new project - 85% winner!, new anthro space - 85% winner!) and soem decided jumpers (3rd floor lounge in the south building, move the new music building from Eddy to NDXC, etc.). You guys know enough about sportsmath to understand why this starts to seem like a potentially ill-advised $450M bet after a while. Given the unprecedented building scale for Notre Dame, that bet ends up being not another project that we hope ND does well, but an unmistakable touchstone that will define ND's campus more than any other project.

All that said, my hunch is that these designs are pretty locked in. If this is what is to be, this is what is to be. I could definitely end up being wrong about the project. Regardless of outcome, however, I do wish ND had sought more public involvement, for a few reasons:

- For a place with such a highly regarded architecture school, it seems odd to not want the input of experts who were educated and trained on ND's campus

- For a place that values its alumni community so highly, one imagines such a big project would be a perfect topic for engaging the larger ND family

- For a place that seems laudably intent on engaging more with the South Bend community, at least trying to sell the concept within the greater SB community (where I imagine this will be a significant portion of total construction investment over the next 5 years) would have been nice as well.



Clearly I am getting old, so I have to ask

by Dave @, Memphis, TN, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 11:55 @ Mike (bart)

Are they going to include lots of extra bathrooms, and design them in such a way as to allow public access to them on game days?


Now this is the most important question of all

by Jack @, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 12:02 @ Dave

Especially for relieving (so to speak) the current level of pent-up demand around game time.


wait, the student center location is a good idea now?

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:41 @ Mike (bart)

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I always thought a student center there was a good idea

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:48 @ Jay

If I intimated differently, it's because I was rolling.


There's some criticism at odds with itself here

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:33 @ Mike (bart)

I don't think you can simultaneously criticize a design as trying to serve too many masters and fault it for having too little public input.

Frankly, they probably know what alumni will say and if South Bend is grumpy, how about they take that energy and try to make their town actually functional again.


Disagree, per my response to B.M., below

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:34 @ HullieAndMikes

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Well, does anyone know how much asking they really did?

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:37 @ Mike (bart)

I don't think anyone here has a conception of what the process actually was. I bet they got plenty of feedback when they first announced the project.


I don't know, but I have a good guess

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:48 @ HullieAndMikes

this is a community that knows Davaris Daniel's GPA and has pored over the campus plan on a semi-regular basis. We have a 75+ post thread below on once and future 1* diners in the South Bend metro. The fact that no one here has heard of any such outreach is, in my mind, telling.

Whatever under-the-radar outreach did or did not happen, it wouldn't cut the mustard as a legitimate public process. Almost every city (and, in many cases, states) have clear, published rules on what constitutes a passable public input process. Whatever architects, planners, etc. that ND hired are crystal clear on what a public process looks like, and beyond that simple Google research could return a template easily as well.

Now, ND has the right of defining "public" however it wants -- it could've simply asked alumni, people who live within 1 mile of campus, donors, even current students. They didn't. I'm not saying ND shouldn't be allowed to build whatever they want -- it's their land and their money, so go nuts. I'm just saying that I personally think the decision to forego such a process was a bad one, and I think that decision in turn did much to create a lot of the risks I feel are represented by the current design.


I think you have an accurate read on the local part.

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:39 @ Mike (bart)

This wasn't floated around town. I don't think there would have been much interest anyway. Not in this economy.


Not amongst the circles you travel in, at least

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:48 @ Buck Mulligan

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We light cigars with diplomas, not vice versa.

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:50 @ Mike (bart)

If you don't understand the difference, you'll never flourish here.


fundamentally disagree

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:54 @ Mike (bart)

I think they did enough "public engagement" with the first renderings and presentations over a year ago. I don't really care if they didn't do any more under-the-radar engagement with non-stakeholders beyond that. The hoi polloi of South Bend metro would be non-stakeholders in the design of this project.


From the initial announcement

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:59 @ Jay

Not only was the scope of the project described far more modest than what we ultimately got, but they said pretty much point blank that they weren't looking for outside (alumni, SB, donors, students, whatever) comment:

The feasibility study will consider whether additions should be constructed to the stadium to provide:

--Space for classrooms, conferences, speakers, meetings, receptions and other events.
--A student center.
--Resources for media, including facilities for the university expanding video and digital initiatives.
--A space for hospitality functions.
--Possible premium seating options.

The feasibility study is expected to take six to nine months to complete. Estimated costs and other details won’t be known until specific construction plans, if any, are approved, according to the university statement.

The study will include representatives from the office of the provost, student affairs, executive vice president, university relations, university architect, athletics and other departments, as well as outside consultants.


That's not what that says at all

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:03 @ Mike (bart)

Disliking the project is fine, but projecting the members of a study group to indicate a cone of silence beyond that is pretty far.



by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:10 @ HullieAndMikes
edited by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:15

What's "pretty far" about it? Jay said that the publics, as it were, had their chance(s) to offer input back when the feasibility study was first announced. I mentioned above that there are well-worn, established ways to solicit and obtain comment on a design proposal, ND eschewed them. Funnily enough, now that the plans are announced and 'the time to comment on all this was a year ago,' ND has put a comments box on the site.

You might think I'm more angry about this than I really am. I'm not looking to get anyone fired or sent to prison here, I'm just throwing out my .02

EDIT: I will also note that there is a link to "Register as a Campus Crossroads Insider:"


What I meant was

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:16 @ Mike (bart)

highlighting who was on their study committee, and using that as evidence of what voices they wanted to hear, was misguided. Not including the mayor or Joe Alumnus is not indicative of anything.

Frankly, in my experience public comment periods are kabuki shows. I mean, maybe it would have made people feel better, but I seriously doubt there was an argument they didn't anticipate.


I'm imagining a Pawnee town forum from Parks & Rec.

by KGB, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:56 @ HullieAndMikes

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Responses to each point

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:29 @ HullieAndMikes

highlighting who was on their study committee, and using that as evidence of what voices they wanted to hear, was misguided. Not including the mayor or Joe Alumnus is not indicative of anything.

Frankly, in my experience public comment periods are kabuki shows. I mean, maybe it would have made people feel better, but I seriously doubt there was an argument they didn't anticipate.

1) I was offering the bit about the composition of the feasibility committee because Jay had proffered that the initial announcement was the public engagement/invitation for comment. The only/closest thing to a "We want to hear from you" inclusion in that feasibility study announcement was "we will be convening a wholly internal university committee to consider these questions further." In my mind, the burden of proof was on Jay's saide, and I was illustrating that I did not think it had been met.

2) You're entitled to your opinion, but "I seriously doubt there is an argument we didn't anticipate" is one of the most persistent and flummoxing mistakes in the history of planning. Of course everyone doubts that there are arguments they didn't anticipate, otherwise they would have anticipated them. This is even eliding the fact that there is a world of difference between "different arguments" and "different perspectives." Consciously or not, everyone on that study committee was playing pool on a slanted table - there is/was an obvious bias towards "Yes" and no countervaling constituency for "no."

Like the man said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” That's not a moral judgement, it's an honest observation.


I'm saying they did enough to engage non-stakeholders

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:13 @ Mike (bart)

That amounts to "notification". If anybody on the outside looking in had commentary they could have written or called. Or pulled together a public hearing, if they felt that strongly about it. But the burden was not on Notre Dame to host an open forum with the general public for the floating of ideas.

Compare to Eddy Street. I would bet you there there was plenty of community engagement on that project.


The burden is usually on the builder to host

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:21 @ Jay

and notify of a public hearing. Harvard, for instance, has had a $31B project in Allston (100% on privately owned Harvard property, mind you) held up for 5+ years now because of ongoing back-and-forth with the citizens group that they themselves created.

It wouldn't even have to be a public hearing. They could've done what they are now doing, and posted a conceptual web page with an interface for comments, yhey could've sent a blast e-mail out to the email list, they could've taken out an ad in ND Magazine inviting feedback and comments, etc. These would not represent extraordinary steps. These are the most routine, normal things in the world. I understand and concede that legally, ND was under no such obligation to do so. I'm not implying any sort of malfeasance on their part. I'm saying that they were foolhardy not to do so, as they deprived themselves of voices that didn't necessarily have a vested input in an expanding project scope.


I don't see the comparison to Harvard

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:27 @ Mike (bart)

This is totally on-campus. I think Eddy Street, with its direct impact on the SB neighborhoods and business community is more what you're thinking.

I'm just repeating myself at this point, but I don't think ND needed to solicit commentary from people outside of the impact area.


Harvard's is totally on campus too

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:33 @ Jay

everything is 100% on contiguous, HU owned land.

Are we missing each other around the word "needed"? I don't think ND is or was out of line at all in moving forward with this project however it damn well pleased. They didn't and don't need anyone's permission, and I don't really see a moral imperative for them to seek out that permission, either.

I'm just saying to you and H&M that for their own good, and for the good of the project, it would have been smart to invite indirect stakeholders into the process.


And my disagreement is with the last line

by HullieAndMikes, Joe Turner's bookcase, ALHS, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:41 @ Mike (bart)

One that neither of us will probably convince the other of. I don't think it would have added anything or been beneficial to either ND or this project.

Based on my personal experience as a student in the Malloy era and a former employee, I like that ND is being bold and unapologetic for once. After too long of not hearing it, I like the sound of breaking eggs.


Agree to disagree

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:50 @ HullieAndMikes

Like you, I've been a big fan of Jenkins' thus far. I just think this is a big misstep, and wanted to be specific as to why


the Allston project has a huge public impact

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:38 @ Mike (bart)

Judging by their project description:

Harvard University filed its most recent Institutional Master Plan for the Allston Campus in 2013. The document includes plans for continued revitalization of Barry's Corner, a campus and community vision, a new network of green spaces, plans to improve the public realm and streetscapes, a strategy to promote environmental sustainability, pedestrian access improvements, improved transportation networks, and community benefits.


Yeah - that's been sought out

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:46 @ Jay

when Summers was still the president, he had much more of a "fuck 'em, let's start building" attitude. Believe me, there's no way the BRA was going to turn down a $31B, temporary- and long-term-job creating investment, no matter what the plans were.

Luckily for Allston, the financial crash hit and stuff got put on hold. When the new president came in, they decided the first and foremost thing was to build as strong a relationship with the Allston community as possible. that's when the Allston Task Force got created, that's when HU built a new library on Harvard Ave., that's when they opened an early-childhood enrichment center for Allston residents' kids, etc. They're making a serious point of playing nice with the local community, and it's really done a lot to make the proposal and surrounding area a lot nicer. The process took a little longer, and it was more tense throughout, but I would say it's a case where the overall project got much stronger as a result of the school against all odds showing a little bit of humility


Would the alma martyrs ever be satisfied?

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 08:43 @ Mike (bart)

I'd imagine the signal to noise ratio would be pretty low, and they already got the signal input wot they sought. Why go through the facade...facade.

Locally I think the consensus, if there is one, is probably along the lines of "Why do they need so many new buildings but thanks for the jobs."

I agree with your concerns.


What if they name the building Obama Hall?

by Jeff (BGS), A starter home in suburban Tempe, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:30 @ Buck Mulligan

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I don't think they needed to achieve

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:30 @ Buck Mulligan

sign-off and celebration, which as we all know would be tough to achieve. Still, there's real value in even asking, not least of which because *gasp* there are potentially concerns that the project drivers might not have thought of or considered.

If you don't take to some type of public process (define "public" however you want) you run a risk of perverse incentives. Who was in a position to rationally or credibly raise objections on the grounds of scope, size or cost?

- Not Mike Brey, not the chair of the music department either.

- Definitely not the development office, nor anyone from student/residential life.

- Most certainly not the hired technical experts, whose compensation ends up being commensurate with the final project price tag.

By not asking anyone outside the project what they thought, they deprived themselves of a natural constituency for "No." I don't begrudge anyone in the above list for having the inclinations that they do - if I were in the same position, I would have the same rational motivations myself. I do think it was incumbent, then on Jenkins/JAG/the campus architect/whomever to understand that vulnerability in the process and work to insert some self-binding and self-evaluation mechanisms into the design process.


Good answer.

by Buck Mulligan, Martello Tower, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:37 @ Mike (bart)

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Is there still a Martyrdom 101 requirement in Freshman year

by Jason93, Raining debris all over Europe, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 08:45 @ Buck Mulligan

studies, or did that go the way of the fullback?

I think the children like it when I "get down" verbally.


It satisfies Theo 101 and Hist 101 requirements

by irishoutsider @, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:09 @ Jason93

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My simple mind thought this was a post about

by Deshi Basara, Indy, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 08:27 @ Mike (bart)

The cross country team.


in terms of Crossroads (country)

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:34 @ Deshi Basara

Has anybody considered how long it's going to take to circumnavigate this new monstrosity on gameday to get to your gate? How about the looming human logjam on the west side, trying to squeeze everyone between Debartolo and the new structure?


I just looked at the drawings again

by MHB (Rakes of Mallow), Chicago, IL, United States, Earth-199999, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 09:55 @ Jay

I don't think the gates are going to be any worse of a problem than they are right now. They are already a huge bottleneck as kickoff approaches.

The spaces between the West building and Debart and the East building and the JACC are only going to get worse. That East space doesn't have much room to begin with and has a ton of foot traffic before and after the game.

The West, which loses even more space, is maybe slightly less concerning given that a large majority of the crowd leaving from the student entrance will go straight into campus without going between the new building and Debart.

Either way, it'll be a pain.

Still, by the time this thing is finished our new President Putin will have given us all hoverboards and that'll cut walking time in half on its own.


I'm not sure it will be an issue.

by ndroman21, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 10:52 @ MHB (Rakes of Mallow)

Let's not forget that the West side of the stadium currently hosts all of the NBC equipment for game day broadcasts, and the access road for them to get there. I'm assuming all of that will be gone, replaced by the new building. The renderings look to have ample green space there for game day crowds.

On the east side, I have to assume they will remove the giant raised planters they installed when Juniper was closed. That frees up a ton of space. Those things are huge. I always end up climbing on them and walking through.

The question for me is how much additional traffic will the new building create on gamedays? The west structure, with the rec center and student center, could potentially create a ton.

The East building, with academic and athletic spaces…probably not as much.


That was my thought too

by Chris (HCC) @, Paradise, Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 08:31 @ Deshi Basara

I had a sad when I saw that it was another campus construction thread.


Well I can't change it now

by Mike (bart), Wednesday, March 05, 2014, 08:32 @ Chris (HCC)

which is kind of my point, really

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