Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Angela Athletic Facility

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Institution Name: Saint Mary's College
Original/Historic Place Name: Angela Athletic Facility
Location on Campus: north side of campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1976-1977original construction Jahn, Helmut
Designer: Helmut Jahn
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Postmodern (Glossary)
Significance: architecture
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete
Walls: translucent fiberglass, structural steel, glass
Roof: single membrane rubber
ca. 1976-present (2006)gymnasium (for women)

The Angela Athletic Facility is an early work by the internationally acclaimed Helmut Jahn (Murphy/Jahn Associates, Chicago, IL). Jahn's reputation is due to the great number, prominence, and memorable character of his buildings. As Martha Pollack puts it, "New materials and structural ideas are used by Jahn with a consummate virtuosity that endows his buildings with the dramatic expression, movement and restrained energy previously reserved for the harnessed power of applied modern science" (Grove Dictionary of Art [New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1996]).

According to Tom Schorgl, ",The Saint Mary's structure is a gleaming white, low rectangular form. The entrance level is actually a combination of observation deck and running track that overlooks multipurpose playing areas. The sunken courts provide space for sports including basketball, volleyball, and tennis.

Jahn's thorough knowledge of building materials and his unique sense of design is evident in the handling of the building's walls. He used inexpensive translucent fiberglass paneling that has excellent insulating properties and admits natural light. The fiberglass walls are connected to the ceiling by clear curved windows. The arched clerestory enhances the wall's design while maximizing natural illumination of the interior.

Jahn's application of bright primary colors to the exposed pipes and ductwork embellishes the facility's expansive 42,000 square feet. Angela Athletic Facility's clean lines, touches of bright color, and naturally illuminated interior produce a thoroughly inviting environment for athletic activities . . . .

For him, Helmut Jahn explains, 'Romance, fantasy and surprise are what put architecture above engineering. Innovative ideas must occur on all levels, the technical as well as the visual. After all, a building is a work of art.' Jahn and his architectural philosophy have carved a place in American--not to mention Indiana's--contemporary architecture." (Schorgl, "South Bend 'Tribune,' Michiana Magazine [May 16, 1982]).


The Architecture of Helmut Jahn, an Introductory Bibliography. Monticello, IL: Vance Bibliographies, 1983.

Blaser, Werner. Helmut Jahn: Architecture Engineering: Helmut Jahn, Werner Sobek, Matthias Schuler. Basel: Birkhauser; Boston, MA: Publishers for Architecture, 2002.

Creek, Sister Mary Immaculate. A Panorama: 1844-1977, Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana. Notre Dame, IN: The College, 1977.

Glibota, Ante. Helmut Jahn. Paris: Paris Art Center, 1987.

McCandless, Marion. Family Portraits, History of the Holy Cross Alumnae Association of Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1879-1949. Notre Dame, IN: Saint Mary's College, 1952.

Miller, Nory. Helmut Jahn. New York: Rizzoli, 1986.

Wagner, Monica. Benchmarks: Saint Mary's College, How it Grew. Notre Dame, IN: Saint Mary's College, 1990.


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