Julie Boynton joined the University as interiors project manager nearly 15 years ago after working in a similar capacity in health care for 14 years. She started as a one-person office, but as campus planning and construction grew, so did her team. Boynton, now director of interior architecture, leads a crew of three full-time interiors project managers and three part-time interiors assistants. They manage the interior elements of nearly every new construction and renovation project on campus, working on up to 120 projects at a time.
NDW: Where does the team find inspiration?
JB: Sometimes a campus partner will have a clear idea of the type of interior environment they hope to create. For example, when working with Student Affairs on the Duncan Student Center project, they had a clear desire to have not only a new state-of-the-art space, but to also incorporate the look of an old space being repurposed. The result was the reuse of stadium bleacher wood for decorative elements; industrial-style lighting; and creating a gym in the new Smith Center for Recreational Sports that mimicked the brick from Rockne Memorial. Other times you have to work more organically with a campus partner. Benchmarking other universities with similar locations can help as well as creating design inspiration portfolios for your client to respond to.
NDW: Where do you find the vendors and products for your projects?
JB: For architectural finishes and specifications, our team has weekly meetings with a variety of manufacturer representatives for items such as flooring, wall coverings, fabric, etc., to stay up to date on new products coming to the marketplace. For furniture, we attend the annual NeoCon conference at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. It’s geared toward the design industry for commercial and institutional furnishings. We also work very closely with our local furniture dealership Business Furnishings and the University’s Office of Procurement to ensure that we have reviewed together the performance of past vendors we have used and review new vendor options.
NDW: Let’s talk about the furniture in Duncan, like that huge comfy blue couch tucked behind Star Ginger. Where did you find that?
JB: I saw this particular product during a trip to NeoCon when visiting the showroom of one of our contracted furniture manufacturers. It was completely different than anything we had ever used before, so I also took our Student Affairs colleagues to the Merchandise Mart to see not only this particular sofa line, but to also review all of the types of products we were considering for the Duncan Student Center spaces.
NDW: The University is celebrating its 175th anniversary. Back in the day, who would have handled interior architecture? A priest, maybe?
JB: I would say that is a likely guess! I do know from my own research that Knute Rockne was also particularly involved in the planning and design of the original Notre Dame Stadium.
NDW: Of all the interior architecture work your team has completed, which are you most proud of?
JB: One project that stands out as rewarding is the renovation of the Joyce Center and Purcell Pavilion addition. What made that project so special to me is the fact that it not only serves athletics and our students, but the community as a whole. The arena was in great need of an update; I remember seeing my first concert there as a child (Elvis!) and the space was conceivably the same when the time came to work on the renovation project.