BUILDINGS - Smarter Facilities Management


The Oratory at Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, FL

Project Innovations 2008


Submitting Company:
Cannon Design, Grand Island, NY

Project Team: (not all-inclusive)
Ave Maria University, owner/developer; Cannon Design, design principal, project designer, project manager, project architect, structural engineer, mechanical engineer, plumbing engineer, electrical engineer; Derr Steel Erection Co., consultant; Suffolk Kraft, general contractor; WilsonMiller Inc., site engineering; EDAW Inc., landscape architects; Cavanaugh Tocci Associates Inc., acoustics and sound system; Carpenter Norris Consulting Inc., daylighting; Atelier Ten, lighting consultant; RWDI, wind engineering

Project Specifics:
Building type/use: education
Square footage: 30,000 square feet
Project cost: $40 million
Project completion: December 2007

Product Suppliers: (not all-inclusive)
Advanced Protection Technologies Inc. (APT) | American Standard | Belden Inc. | Carboline Co. | Carrier Corp. | Ceramica Fioranese | Cisco Systems Inc. | Day-Brite Lighting | DORMA | Elkay Mfg. Co. | EVAPCO Inc. | Firestone Building Products | Greenheck Fan Corp. | H.E. Williams Inc. | Hager Cos. | Honeywell Intl. | Industrial Acoustics Co. (IAC) | Johns Manville | Johnson Controls Inc. | Kawneer | LCN | Maharam | McQuay Intl. | RIXSON Specialty Door Controls | Rockwood Mfg. Co. | Sauder Mfg. Co. | Schlage | Sherwin-Williams Co. | Shure Inc. | Sloan Valve Co. | Soheil Mosun Limited | Steelcraft | Sto Corp. | Stromberg Architectural Products Inc. | Systecon Inc. | ThyssenKrupp | Tremco Inc. | USG Corp. | Viracon Inc. | Von Duprin | Whitacre Greer Fireproofing Co. | Woodland Construction Co. | Yamaha Corp. | Zumtobel Lighting


The Oratory at Ave Maria University is the focus of a new town and university development on 4,000 acres of former agricultural land in southern Florida. Home to 6,000 students, Ave Maria University desired an oratory that would be the spiritual, conceptual heart and physical center of the community. At first view, the profile of the 120-foot-tall structure evokes images of a cathedral, but a closer look reveals a contemporary building of glass, steel, and stone. The facility is located at the focus of major roadways and pedestrian paths.

Special Design Elements
The design is rooted in a combination of historic church forms, rendered with contemporary structure, materials, and technology. Structural steel buttresses, which emulate the great cathedrals of Europe, rise from the stone plinth and pierce through to the interior. Inside, details in stone, bronze, wood, and glass are reminiscent of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Design/Construction Challenges
The unique design presented a series of challenges for the project team. The building's substantial height and open interior volume created structural concerns, and the curved nature of the building required complex connections that would remain exposed. Computer simulations helped the construction team avoid structural deficiencies. Further, the project was successfully completed in a region of southwestern Florida known as "hurricane alley" and "the lightning capital of the world."























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