The 25,000 sf facility is sited in a dense grove of oak trees on a 50-acre Catholic seminar campus in San Antonio, Texas. Located in a quiet part of the campus, the new facility’s users are members of various religious orders who come from around the world. The complex is split into three roughly equal structures connected by a large walled-in courtyard that centers on a strand of trees. The west structure contains administrative offices and the main public spaces, while the more secluded east structure primarily houses guest rooms. The walled court—in essence the real center of the facility—provides a contemplative and secluded gathering space for the center’s guests who come for three- to six-month sabbaticals.
Each building is modulated by elements expressing significant interior functions: a tower marks the main entrance; the chapel is expressed by an octagonal corner element; and the dining room bay is designated by a glass prism overlooking the tree-studed campus. Throughout, deep overhangs, steel trellises and the existing tree canopies shade windows and patios from the bright sun. Its massive perimeter walls are punctuated with Spanish cedar wood grilles allowing the cool southern breezes to penetrate deep into the court. The court provides the setting in which guests can withdraw from their routine ministries to rest, reflect on their calling, and then return, renewed, to their communities beyond the walls.