2012 Recipient | AIA Housing Awards

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Jesuit Community Center | Notes of Interest

A community of Jesuits required a home and a center for their religious mission. The architecture reflects their commitment to simplicity, spirituality, and intellectualism. Aware of their role as teachers and spiritual guides, the Jesuits sought a building that would serve as an exemplar of ecological architecture.

This residence and apostolic center sits at the heart of a campus and houses Jesuit priests, offices, a chapel, community dining room, great room, and library. The site is prominent and lovely, a steeply sloping hillside bounded to the south by mature European beech trees that frame distant views to Long Island Sound. The building rests on the shoulder of the slope, organizing its community spaces beneath the low plane of a garden roof, uninterrupted except by the monitor that lights the chapel, the spiritual heart of the building.

All design decisions promote the smooth function of a combined social center, religious sanctuary, and home and optimize the building’s environmental performance. Operable windows promote natural ventilation, reduce mechanical loads, and admit winter sunlight onto dark concrete floors that absorb and radiate solar energy. Natural daylight floods the interior. Renewable materials line the building’s surfaces. The building overhangs its foundations, protecting the root systems of the giant beech trees that surround it and that shade the building’s southerly windows during hot summer months.

The garden roof filters storm water, reduces heat loss, and increases the durability of the roof membrane. A closed-loop geothermal heating and cooling system provides energy to the building without fossil fuels. Both traditional site and building design best practices and innovative environmental technologies serve to reduce short-and-long term impact on the local and global environment, helping the Jesuits to achieve their goal of acting as “good stewards of the Earth.”

Additional Credit

  • Engineer: Altieri Sebor Wieber; Edward Stanley
  • Landscape Designer: Reed Hilderbrand

Photo Credit

  • © Robert Benson Photography

Jesuit Community Center

Category Four: Specialized Housing

Jury Comments

The community and the simplicity of it and the way you can be inside but that you’re still connected to the outside – it is a beautiful iteration of a modern center. The chapel and the way it is set up for a service allows for beautiful interaction.

2012 AIA Housing Awards Jury

  • Sandra A. LaFontaine, AIA, Chair
  • LaFontaine Architecture and Design
  • Worthington, Ohio
  • Allison Arieff
  • New York Times
  • San Francisco
  • Sara E. Caples, AIA
  • Caples Jefferson Architects
  • New York City
  • Jerome King, FAIA
  • The Office of Jerome King
  • San Jose, Calif.
  • Bill Moore, AIA
  • Sprocket Design Build, Inc.
  • Denver

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