The Jesuits at Fairfield University asked us to design a home for their community and a center for their religious mission and to provide an architecture that would reflect their commitment to simplicity, spirituality and intellectualism. Aware of their special role as teachers and spiritual guides, the Jesuits sought a building that would not only provide for their own immediate needs, but might serve as an exemplar of ecological architecture.
Working with the Jesuit Community and University planners, we developed a 20,000 square foot residence and apostolic center at the heart of the campus. The building houses resident Jesuit priests and their Jesuit and lay guests, administrative offices, a chapel, community dining room, great room, and library, providing not only a home to the Jesuit men but a base for the regional Jesuit community and a symbol of the Jesuits’ historical presence on the Fairfield campus. The site is prominent and lovely, a steeply sloping hillside bounded to the south by enormous mature European beech trees which frame distant views to Long Island Sound.
The Center sits on the shoulder of the slope, its community spaces organized beneath the low plane of a garden roof, visible from the Graduation lawn above it, and uninterrupted except by the large monitor that lights the chapel, the spiritual heart of the building. To the eastern campus side, the building’s elevation presents a simple expression of the community, a public entry porch, the altar wall of the chapel, and the large windows of the community great room.