St. Teresa’s Academy Windmoor Center Kansas City, Missouri
This Catholic independent college preparatory school for young women wanted to add a new chapel and academic space on the main campus quadrangle. After surveying students and faculty, a vision for the chapel emerged as a soft, feminine, contemplative space flooded with light and connected to nature. There was a strong desire to connect to the narrative of St. Teresa, the patron saint of lace makers. (Common survey answers below).
What is important to imagine or envision in a physical space for worship at the school?
Use of skylights/lots of windows/natural light/meditative garden
How can the space convey the school’s mission and the values passed on to you by the heritage and commitment of the sisters of St. Joseph?
Use green technology/be environmentally friendly/holy place
Visual representation of females in relationship with God/lace
Symbolic connection to the Sisters/etched glass to resemble lace
Research and inspiration from the roots of the school
St. Teresa of Avila
Le Puy, France
Lace In Nature
Lace To Create Shadow
Lace To Create Form
Lace To Create Space
French lace designs from the academy’s collection
Sister Ramona, a nun with the sister’s of St. Joseph of Carondelet, continues the lacemaking tradition
examples of Sister Ramona’s handmade bobbin lace
existing campus architecture
early sketch, placing major lace elements across the chapel facade
Important throughout the design process was balance. Achieving harmony between sacred and secular is the very essence of the school’s mission, and was the charge facing the design team. The challenge was reinforced by the duality of the program, which combines the school’s spiritual heart with technology-rich classrooms and banquet facilities.
We developed the design solution to honor the school’s history and embody the vision of a modern institution for women’s education. The chapel’s soft dappled light and feminine lines of its lace veil, pulled across the simple interior palette, is balanced by the defined brick mass of the classrooms, which visually ties the building form to the existing academic campus. The two volumes are unified by a shared lobby that enables the sacred and secular to co-mingle.
lace samples used within the cropped lace design
campus influence on parti development
digital mockup of water jet aluminum
lace on masonry skin
exterior surface of water jet cut aluminum panel system during fabrication process before bead blasting and painting
design realized after setting the 45 panels in place
extent of lace scrim
final AutoCAD linework of panelized lace design
The design team conducted material experimentation and digital fabrication explorations to translate the concept into built form. Material, finish and digital and mechanical tolerances were all precisely coordinated and tested with the fabricator to ensure an elegant translation of the organic design onto the chapel’s waterjet cut aluminum panels.
The Windmoor Center is a site-sensitive, sustainable project incorporating many green and energy efficient features.
• Minimal amount of solar exposure on the south facade.
• Glazing is double-paned and insulated and incorporates a low-e coating for maximum efficiency.
• Southwest glazing of the chapel is shaded by the lace scrim.
• Ballasted modified bituminous roof lessens radiant heat gain.
• Heating and cooling energy provided by a new geothermal well field.
• Nineteen geothermal wells, each four-hundred and fifty feet deep are located in the historic quad to maximize usable site area and serve as a teaching tool.
• Reduced energy use by 66% from the average energy use for a similar building.
“To say this project fulfilled the programmatic requirements set out in the design process would be a huge understatement. It was the leadership and guidance of the architectural team that encouraged us to get input from our community members to define the characteristics and features they wanted to see in this project. The architectural team was able to take this important input and fuse it into a design that perfectly fit our programmatic requirements for the space. The project has contrasting uses of a worship space and high tech classrooms/meeting space. The team exquisitely balanced these requirements and created a beautiful, innovative and functional design that is rooted in our history, our community, and our vision for the future.”
—Nan Bone, President, St. Teresa’s Academy
Historic School Artifact Display