by John Vannie
Notre Dame recently announced the Crossroads Project, a combination of Stadium enhancement and academic building expansion initiative, but long time NDNation contributor Tim Kress (aka NDRoman21) has a better approach. Here’s his story.
A little over four years ago, when the discussions of a JumboTron in Notre Dame Stadium were gaining steam, I put together a preliminary design concept for a renovation that would bring the venue up to the standards of today’s pre-eminent college and NFL programs. While I didn’t believe a renovation was necessary, the writing was on the wall, and I wanted to show that it could be done in a manner befitting the historic structure. I viewed it as an opportunity to correct the mistakes of the 1997 stadium expansion. With encouragement from my friends at NDNation, I assembled a conceptual design package and forwarded it to the powers-that-be at Notre Dame. I received a cordial reply from Jack Swarbrick thanking me for the effort, but stating that there were no current plans for any changes to the stadium.
Two years later, Notre Dame released its initial study of the eventual “Crossroads” project, which expanded beyond the purely football-based scope I had envisioned. The idea had great potential–but the architecture, seemingly based on recent additions to ND’s sports facilities such as Purcell Pavilion and Compton Family Ice Center–was rather bland. I wrote another letter to Jack Swarbrick encouraging him to look to the original stadium as a design precedent. I received no reply.
A few months ago, “ND Crossroads” was officially announced. I was disappointed. While the architects obviously looked to the original stadium for precedent, they did so only for architectural details. The proposed massing of three large masonry buildings surrounding the 1997 expansion makes no reference to the simple, elegant bowl structure of the original. Rather, it is in direct contradiction to it.
I remain convinced that for a building as iconic as Notre Dame Stadium, the conceptual program should adjust to the architectural form, and not vice versa. The Crossroads project could be adjusted to work in a form that pays homage to the original stadium and, to a lesser extent, the expansion. This would tell the story of the stadium’s architectural history, while restoring some of the sense of place lost in 1997.
With that in mind, I put together a revised concept over the course of an evening and posted it. Encouraged by the response and to satisfy my own creative drive, I then spent countless hours refining and further detailing that concept into a structure that (i) meets the needs of the “Crossroads” program; (ii) corrects mistakes made in 1997; and (iii) restores a sense of place to The House that Rockne Built.
For a look at all of the renderings, please visit this website
Please direct any inquiries to Tim Kress at firstname.lastname@example.org