Text description provided by the architects. The church and school, designed for a newly formed congregation, is a 31,805 sf assemblage of relatively simple, pragmatic forms. Rooted in agrarian building traditions of the Midwest, these forms are executed in native limestone and weathering steel.
The building honors Catholic traditions through the use of light, procession, form, and materiality. In the sanctuary native limestone walls embrace the congregation while clerestory windows allow filtered natural daylight to fill the sacred space. The exposed structural frame and gaps in the stone flanking walls deliver cadence and repetition. A wood-louvered gothic-arch window draws attention to the east and acknowledges the importance of that orientation in Catholic tradition.
The use of weathering steel imparts a distinct identity that is rooted in tradition yet definitively points toward the future. Always detailed as rain screens, the weathering steel has a long lifespan and fulfills the desire for a low maintenance, durable, and sustainable building.
Adopting the strategy that the most sustainable building is the building that is not built, the project seeks to first minimize its need for energy and then optimize the necessary systems. The building program is organized and fenestrated to maximize solar benefit. Mechanical systems are decentralized and transport energy with fluid instead of air. This maximizes the efficiency of systems and minimizes plenum spaces. The building envelope is continuously insulated to minimize thermal transfer. Through these means the building is projected to utilize 45% less energy than comparable church and school buildings.