While working on the preliminary space planning and initial design concepts for this project we asked many questions. When we asked the Abbess what makes a monastery, she replied, “a monastery is a place of serenity to commune with God and nature. A place of permanence not a fortress, a place where people are welcome...are free to be themselves... and explore their relationship to God and its importance to their relationships with others.”
Working with the nuns, we developed a master plan totaling 15,000 square feet of functional spaces and a budget of $3.8 million. Further, the physical reality of the site and the nuns’ aspirations were beginning to define a “place” of peace and prayer in the relationship between the man-made courtyard and the surrounding woods, a worldly street and a heavenly sky, and even a direction towards rebirth along a road that led to the Monastery’s nearby cemetery. In order to ensure the serenity of the place, exterior building materials are natural stone and wood, building forms blend with the rolling hills of the 45 acre site, and the buildings are super insulated and rely on passive means of heating and cooling to maintain comfortable temperatures, and keep the costs of fuel oil and electricity to a minimum.