After 60 years, a new look for the Morris Inn

Author: Colleen O'Connor

The Morris Inn's east facade will undergo major changes in the renovation

The Morris Inn is weeks away from a complete makeover, the first total renovation since its dedication in 1952.

Long the seat of Notre Dame hospitality, the Morris Inn will close its doors at noon on Sunday, Oct. 21, following the Oct. 20 Notre Dame-BYU home game. When it re-opens in August 2013, square footage will have increased from 72,000 to 137,500 and the number of rooms from 92 to 148.

“As the ‘living room’ of the University, the new Inn will exhibit an attention to detail that respects and honors the University’s history,” says David Harr, associate vice president for auxiliary operations.

Work on utility infrastructure around the site, which began earlier this summer, is just being completed, and soon the foundation will be laid for a new 300-seat ballroom on the north end of the building.

An architect's rendering of the new Morris Inn ballroom

On Oct. 22, two other phases of demolition and reconstruction will commence: the expansion and renovation of the existing Inn, and the demolition of the south wing to make way for the construction of a new guest room wing. The new wing will have a fourth floor, adding close to a dozen suites. Guest rooms will have a mixture of king and double-queen beds.

In the existing building, the 60-year-old plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems will be replaced. Existing guest rooms will be enlarged from 240 to an average of 360 square feet and feature king-size beds. The lobby will expand to more than twice the current size.

Sorin’s will be unchanged, and the mural will be covered for protection during the construction and cleaned before the reopening. Leahy’s will be eliminated, to be replaced by a new bistro in the area adjacent to the lobby currently occupied by three private dining rooms. New private dining rooms are planned near the ballroom in the new wing.

The Morris Inn's facade will be replaced and a porte-cochere constructed

Outside, the east façade of the building will be replaced, and a porte-cochère (covered driveway) will be erected at the lobby entrance. On the west side of the building, a new outdoor courtyard with patio will be added. The existing parking lot will remain as is, with the Bookstore parking lot to the south being expanded to accommodate overflow parking.

“Thanks to the generosity and leadership of longtime Notre Dame friends Ernestine Raclin and her family, The Morris Inn is now positioned to continue the University’s tradition of outstanding hospitality, service and excellence,” says John Affleck-Graves, executive vice president.

In a joint venture, the architectural and interior design is being provided by Solomon Cordwell Buenz and Getty’s Hospitality Design. Construction is being managed by Skanska. The University will seek LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for the building’s design and construction.

Morris Inn staff to redeploy during construction

All 52 full-time staff of The Morris Inn have been offered the opportunity for redeployment in other areas on campus while construction is under way.

Following three open-forum meetings with the staff this spring, individual interviews were conducted early this summer with every employee to ascertain interests, skills and past experience. Out of this process came a career development program developed by human resources to assist each individual with the transition. The program covered resume/cover letter preparation, educational and career goal setting, in-depth career assessment and networking/interviewing tips.

“The staff has been very positive about redeployment,” says David Konkey, assistant director of The Morris Inn. “Many are looking at it as an opportunity to either learn new skills while the hotel is closed for construction, or move on permanently to other career paths.”

Several campus departments have contacted Konkey to express interest in offering employment. For more information, contact Konkey at konkey.1@nd.edu or 631-2041.