Sculpture Park

Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park

Noted American landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh immediately appreciated the site’s serendipitous qualities produced from past neglect. It enjoys rolling topography because it was once a landfill. Mature trees were likely planted to hide the dump and their lofty canopy is the result of aggressive pruning to clear unsightly underbrush. The water element is a retention pond for runoff from acres of adjacent parking.The Snite Museum of Art Advisory Council initiated a Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park—its construction is funded by their generous gifts.

The fortuitous evolution of this Notre Dame site from historic disregard to present mad allure suggested the overarching theme for both park and inaugural exhibition:  reclamation of nature and self.

Notre Dame Sculpture Park and future site of art museum

Indigenous trees, shrubs and prairie grass return the Midwestern site to how it might have looked at the founding of Notre Dame. Van Valkenburgh has carefully selected plants to retain the beautiful light that filters through the tree canopy and to celebrate Notre Dame’s four seasons.  Indigenous plants have added benefits of not requiring irrigation, fertilization, chemical spraying or annual pruning.

The sculpture park creates a public space for contemplating nature and art. Groups enjoy walks, conversing with friends, brown-bag lunches, as well as impromptu class sessions, poetry readings and musical concerts.


Fly Ash Removal at the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park

fly_ash_removal_600Dump truck replacing fly ash with clean fill, January 2015

A large portion of the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park contains fly ash that was produced in the past by the Notre Dame power plant and was placed on the site until mid twentieth century. While inert, ash does not compact. Therefore, it needs to be removed before a new art museum building can one day be built within the Sculpture Park.

Fly ash removal began in November 2014 and will likely continue into the fall of 2015. As the fly ash is removed it is being replaced by clean fill from Notre Dame construction sites.

Notre Dame has invited Sculpture Park landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh to suggest improvements that might be made to the Sculpture Park while there is this opportunity to 1) adjust a portion of its topography, 2) enhance the southern edge of the pond, and 3) replace trees and shrubs.

While the sculpture Park remains open during construction, visitors might experience noise and dust generated by earth moving equipment.


Reclaiming our Nature

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Video Interviews with Artists and Landscape Architects