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  Felician Sisters Convent & Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School, Page 60LEED® GOLD PENDING
Felician Sisters Convent & Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School

1100 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
Total Square Feet: 161,428
Construction Period: Mar 2002 to Aug 2003 

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Sota Construction Services, Inc. - 80 Union Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15202
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: The Kachele Group - 1014 Perry Highway, #100, Pittsburgh, PA 15237
ELECTRICAL/MECHANICAL/PLUMBING ENGINEER: Elwood S. Tower Corp. - 115 Evergreen Heights Drive, #400, Pittsburgh, PA 15229
MATERIALS REUSE CONTRACTOR: Clearview Project Services Company - 3977 William Flynn Highway, Allison Park, PA 15101
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Rolf Sauer and Partners, Ltd. - 3868 Terrace Street, Philadelphia, PA 19128

The Franciscan nuns of the Felician Sisters Convent wanted to renovate their 70-year-old provincial house to feel less like an institution and more like a home. The community was living in two buildings: St. Joseph Hall, a 1960's infirmary building, and the 1930's motherhouse, which also housed Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School.

Perkins Eastman completed a master planning study and the Sisters decided to renovate the motherhouse and consolidate the community under one roof. As such, the existing building plan was not workable as an assisted living facility. The elderly Sisters' bedrooms were too far from existing gang bathrooms, which were too small to negotiate with walkers or wheelchairs. The building systems had not been upgraded since the 1930's, there were no individual temperature controls, and the existing partitions contained asbestos. The building needed to be gutted, yet doing so would jeopardize the very reason for renovating the motherhouse.

With full community participation, Perkins Eastman re-configured the 150,000-square-foot convent into clusters of individual rooms with private baths in 10 households arrayed around a living room, kitchen and dining room. Spatially, four different Halls organize the new school plan and express the Franciscan Order's ethics: the Hall of Life, the Hall of Social Justice, the Hall of Peace, and the Hall of Community. These Halls are focal points on each floor and are used for the presentation of student work and as informal gathering spaces. Large openings in the classrooms provide natural light, along with high reflectance paint and mecco shades. On the grounds, the students enjoy trails cut into seven acres of newly planted meadow from an area previously maintained as lawn. All plants are selected from native species.

The project team held a strong commitment to making the renovation environmentally responsible and to preserving the house's historic architectural character. While the Felician Sisters were not educated about many environmental issues, they are followers of Saint Francis of Assisi who is the Patron Saint of the Environment. This commitment allows them to view environmental stewardship as a responsibility. As the project evolved and the Sisters became more aware of the building's potential environmental impacts, they consistently made decisions based on stewardship.

Working through the project and environmental goals, the team soon realized the value in the resources that the building contained. Many materials installed in 1930 were still in excellent condition. If the Sisters wanted low maintenance and durable materials, they could not buy new materials that would perform as well as the old. A subcontractor was hired to catalog, remove, touch-up, repair and reinstall the doors, flooring, trim and cabinetry.

More than 300 original hardwood doors and transoms were refinished and re-hung; over an acre of hardwood flooring was lifted, cleaned and re-laid; over a mile of trim was removed, preserved and installed; and over 275,000 pounds of ballast for the roof was stockpiled and reused as underlayment for paving. New windows were made using energy efficient technologies but were manufactured to look like the original windows. The perimeter of the building was studded out and insulated. Construction waste was recycled and all new finishes were made from low emitting materials to preserve indoor air quality. New energy efficient systems for both lighting and heating were installed as well as solar hot water panels to aid in energy reduction.

As the project progressed it became clear that decisions most benefiting the community were also beneficial to the environment. The building has preserved the character of the original structure, is energy efficient, better serves an aging and student population, and promotes environmental stewardship. The architect achieved over a 30% reduction in energy consumption compared to a baseline model. Systems used to achieve the reduction included heat recovery from air and kitchen exhausts; individual controls in each classroom; landscaped plantings that shade the south and west facades; and recycled roof water used in the evaporative cooler. The client has used the project, which is seeking a gold LEED® rating, to educate their Sisters, students and staff in issues of the environment including green cleaning, recycling, vermicomposting, renewable energy, and the building itself.

DIV 02: Pavers: Hanover Architectural Products.
DIV 07: Wall Insulation: Johns Manville; Roof Insulation: Carlisle Sure-Seal®; Membrane Roofing: Carlisle Sure-Weld®.
DIV 08: Windows: Keystone Industries.
DIV 09: Paint: Sherwin Williams; Linoleum: Forbo Marmoleum; Carpet: Interface, Collins & Aikman; Ceramic Tile: Terra Green.

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