The University of Notre Dame was completing a new, 14-story library and its president, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, decided a dramatic mosaic would be required to put life into the windowless structure.
Hesburgh was 96 and retired for a quarter-century when he said to author Bill Schmitt in 2013: “We needed something spectacular to take this enormous building in the middle of a prairie in northern Indiana and not have it look like a grain elevator.”
The mosaic was designed by California artist Millard Sheets. Jesus Christ would be the centerpiece, surrounded by figures that were not specific people. The name “The Word of Life” was attached to the mural.
Ellerbe and Co., a St. Paul architectural firm, had a history of projects with Notre Dame. It designed this new library to house Notre Dame’s hundreds of thousands of books, art galleries and collections of famed people such as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.
Perhaps it was someone with Ellerbe who offered this advice to Hesburgh, Sheets and others:
“The best place to find the variety and expertise you’ll