Sarah Cahalan '14 | March 9, 2018
Imagine, if you will, the architectural needs of a small town. The people who live there will need homes and places to worship. The people who work there will need offices. It will need restaurants, and concert halls, and perhaps a hotel and a museum. It will need gyms and athletic venues, and a library, and places for students to learn, in rooms that range from lecture halls to astronomy labs.
Now imagine that one person is in charge of the interior spaces in every one of those variegated buildings.
That is sort of what it’s like to be Julie Boynton.
As the University’s director of interior architecture, Boynton oversees the design and aesthetics of all of Notre Dame’s interiors, from dorm-lounge paint colors to “Elevator This Way” signs. She isn’t alone in this endeavor — she works within the facilities design and operations department and manages a small team — but she is its head, a role that she says involves as much listening as it does leading.
“The most important thing that we do, the most important skill, is listening,” Boynton says. “Something can be beautiful and pretty, but if it doesn’t function, and it doesn’t meet the needs of the occupant or the building user, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is.”
With each project, Boynton and her team start by spending time in the space and talking with the people who use it. An administrative division with lots of new hires may have a flexible office plan as its priority. The music department needs acoustics. A dorm needs to be homey. The common misconception about working in interiors — that it’s all picking paint colors and feng shui-ing couches — doesn’t account for these nuances. Hence: interior architect, not interior designer.