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St. Hilda’s House Convent

Project Type

Community

Occupancy

December 2010

Location

454 Convent Ave New York, New York

Client

Community of the Holy Spirit
"Of the 14 firms that the sisters had invited to submit proposals, BKSK ultimately wooed them with a plan that features rooftop gardens, water heated by solar power, rainwater collection, natural light and ventilation and the use of environmentally sensitive materials throughout."
Joseph Huff-Hannon for the New York Times

The new convent for the Community of the Holy Spirit in upper Manhattan is designed to inspire quiet contemplation, both individually and collectively, for a monastic community of women in the Episcopal church. The inherent spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of their Order mandate a great respect for the natural world and a careful approach to living lightly within it.

Embracing tradition and modernity in equal measure, the Convent makes a strong statement about living graciously in simple surroundings. The building functions as a place of spiritual reflection, worship, and outreach, as well as a home. Throughout materials that celebrate nature and craft make tangible the Sisters’ commitment to the environment. Sustainable measures include two green roofs, a solar hot water heater, rainwater collection, abundant natural ventilation, a tight building envelope, and carefully sourced finishes. While modest in scale, the Convent makes incredibly efficient use of its site while simultaneously creating a surprising experience of both intimacy and appropriate grandeur in its ceremonial and ecclesiastical spaces.

Awards:
Faith & Form Magazine/IFRAA Art & Architecture, Religious Architecture Merit, 2012
Brick Industry Association Silver Award for House of Worship, 2011

Publications:
A forward retreat: the sisters of New York City’s St. Hilda’s House cultivate an ideal example of sacrificial and sustainable living,” Worship Facilities: 3/2012
Savvy sisters: a sustainable convent in Harlem,” The Architect’s Newspaper: 9/2011
A green habitat in upper Manhattan,” Inhabitat: 9/29/2011
“Home is where the carbon isn’t: four new eco-friendly residential projects focus on energy efficiency,” AIA NY Oculus: Fall 2009
Praise the Lord and raise the green roof,” New York Times: 2/1/2009

Collaborators:
ICS Builders Inc. – general contractor; Weidlinger Associates – structural; Laslo Bodak – MEP; Denis Gray Horticulture – green roof consultant; Horton Lees Brogden – lighting design; Acoustic Dimensions – acoustic/av/it

Photos by Jeff Goldberg/ESTO and Ari Burling