Margaret Fosmoe | October 17, 2017
When the Golden Dome was placed atop the University of Notre Dame’s Main Building in 1882, the founding of the university’s School of Architecture was still 16 years in the future.
But architecture classes had been taught at the university as early as the 1860s, and the built environment has always been an important part of Notre Dame’s academic mission.
That commitment to architecture both in the classroom and on campus is revealed in a new exhibit at The History Museum, “Commitment, Continuity and Community: Architecture at Notre Dame, 1898 to the Present.” It was developed in a collaborative effort by the museum and the School of Architecture.
For those with a love of the physical campus, they’ll find plenty of nods to familiar sights at Notre Dame, including a small wooden model of the Golden Dome, a canister of gold leaf remaining from a 1933 regilding of the dome and a piece of decorative wrought iron from the roof line of the Main Building.
There’s also a scale model of Walsh Family Hall of Architecture, designed by British architect John Simpson, which is under construction south of Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame was the first Catholic university in the United States to offer a degree in architecture. It was in 1898 that the university organized its architecture training into a separate School of Architecture.
The first Notre Dame architecture graduate was Eugenio Rayneri Piedra, of Cuba, who earned his degree in 1904. After graduating, Piedra returned home and pursued an illustrious career, including winning a competition to design Cuba’s Cuban National Capital building (known as El Capitolio), which is similar in appearance to the U.S. Capitol building. Completed in 1929, El Capitolio was the seat of government until after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, and now houses the Cuban Academy of Sciences.