Dedication of the Michael Christopher Duda Center for Preservation, Resilience, and Sustainability

The Michael Christopher Duda Center was dedicated in the fall semester 2022 in a ceremony and Mass presided over by University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. It was attended by University Provost John McGreevy, School of Architecture Dean Stefanos Polyzoides, members of the School faculty, and members of the Duda family, benefactors of the endowment that supports the Center. Named after the Dudas’ late son and Notre Dame School of Architecture alumnus, Michael Christopher Duda ’04, the Center has the dual mission of funding the Master of Science in Historic Preservation (MSHP) degree program and promoting research and advocacy related to the three themes in the Center’s name.

Marking the founding of the Center was the installation of a bronze plaque in the Stoa of Walsh Family Hall of Architecture created by sculptor Andrew Wilson Smith, son of the late founder of the School’s classical program, Thomas Gordon Smith. The bronze relief depicts Michael Duda at his drafting board as a student in the School of Architecture before graduating and pursuing his career in real estate development and historic preservation in his native Dallas, Texas. Michael was also a member of the Board of the Texas Historical Foundation, where the family has also established an endowment to promote historic preservation projects in the state.

 Andrew Smith described the sculpture process:

“I was approached by Dean Polyzoides in the spring of 2022 to create a commemorative plaque in honor of Michael Duda and the family’s gift in his memory. The theme of laurel leaves and an image of Michael at the drafting table were established at our initial meeting. It was also clear that the plaque should harmonize with the classical design of Walsh Family Hall. The pattern of laurel leaves that surround the composition was inspired by American Greek Revival mirror frames. Dean Polyzoides suggested that Michael should be depicted drafting an image of the Alamo to indicate his Texas roots and his interest in sacred architecture. The process included both artisanal and digital techniques: The composition of the plaque and the frame was produced by 3D printing but the sculpture of Michael was modeled by hand in clay. Neomek made the 3D scans for the digital model of the frame and text, and I sculpted the image of Michael at 150% of the final size. Neomek then scanned my clay model, integrated it into the digital model, and printed a high-resolution model at full scale. The model then went to the foundry, Chicago Crucible, where the bronze was cast using the ancient ‘lost wax’ technique and given its final patina. The sculpture was installed just in time for the dedication.”

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In his remarks celebrating Mass, Father Jenkins noted the ties between the study of architecture and historic preservation and our collective obligation to safeguarding “our common home,” in the words of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si. The Duda Center’s mission is to promote the convergence between conservation of the built heritage of buildings, cities, and landscapes and the need to render our present environment more beautiful, sustainable, and just.

The Duda family’s gift enables the School to expand its leading-edge curriculum in traditional architecture and urbanism, hire new faculty, sponsor national and international conferences, promote research in the field, and provide financial assistance to graduate students enrolled in the Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree program. Though housed within the School of Architecture, the Center is an essential resource for University-wide teaching and research in the fields of historic preservation, community resilience, and environmental sustainability.

November 1, 2022

Art and HistoryDigest217Michael Christopher Duda Center for Preservation Resilience and SustainabilitySchool of ArchitectureUniversity of Notre Dame