Monday, April 18, 2011

Fairfield University Uses Some Serious Green To Build Green

An old beech tree at the bottom of a steep hill along Bellarmine Road no longer stands on Fairfield University’s campus, but it’s been reborn within the new 23,000-square-foot Jesuit Community Center.
Gray Organschi Architecture, a New Haven firm, incorporated the tree into the design of the $10 million building. (12 priests divided by ten million dollars, equals $833,000.00 per Jesuit)
“One lone beech tree at the foot of this hill, four feet in diameter, unfortunately died,” said Alan Organschi, a principal of the firm with Lisa Gray. “Today it finds new life in this building. Its limbs are used to shade the windows, and its trunk was used for the alter.”
A geothermal system 400 feet below the surface heats and cools the Jesuit Center, which will be used for Jesuits’ apostolic missions and as housing for its 12 priests.
While noting that the number of men entering the Society of Jesus is in decline, Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., said the Jesuit Community Center will strengthen the school’s Jesuit identity and lead to a closer relationship between the priests and the campus community.
“Students and Jesuits will literally cross paths,” von Arx said, “and I believe this will lead to learning opportunities, and that new and as yet unforeseen opportunities for creative and collaborative engagement between the university and the Jesuit community will emerge as this new Jesuit Community Center comes to life.”
Link (here) to the full article at the Fairfield Sun.

This post was originally published in December 2009
Some Updates
This is a new article about the Fairfield building at the New York Times (here)
Commentary by Fr. James Martin, S.J. (here)
Commentary by Mr. Joe Koczera, S.J. (here)


Jean-Francois Thomas S.J said...

Jesuits and students will cross path when the first ones will be faithful again to what saint Ignatius and the Church want for the Society. One face is poverty. This building, as many others in the Society all around the world, is a total scandal. The Missionaries of Charity have vocations, not the Jesuits. Very easy to know why...

Anonymous said...

Well, that's a valid point--all vowed religious should live lives of poverty.

As for the building, it's great that it's green: and I think the facility will be serving more uses than housing a dozen Jesuits.

Please urge your politicians to support green efforts (they help keep lame airports in operation and give lots of $$ to highways but little to public transportation).

Anonymous said...

Some notes: the Jesuits at Fairfield donated their previous large residence and all their property around it on Barlow Rd to the school to serve as a graduate student residence; the University owns the new building and, when the Jesuit community grows small enough, the school will take it over for its own purposes; and, having seen the place, it is kind of scandalous. That said, it IS Fairfield County, one of the richest in the US.

TonyD said...

I, too, would prefer to see the Jesuits do everything possible to move into much more humble quarters. When I see their willingness to live in such a residence I find myself questioning their commitment and understanding of poverty.

It is in rising above self-interest that they become people capable of doing more in this existence. Until then, they do more harm than good as priests. What kind of example do they set for the wealthy? What kind of example do the set for the religious? What kind of example do they set for those who would rationalize self-interest.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what about this building conveys the impression that is a religious dwelling?

This from the religious order that popularized, if not invented, the baroque.

The Emperor has no clothes.

Anonymous said...

How thoughtful for the Jesuits to plan for their own extinction.

Maria said...

How thoughtful for the Jesuits to plan for their own extinction.

LOL. It doesn't require much effort!

Maria said...

A family friend spoke to a Jesuit, who is up in years, some time last year. They were discussing the state of the Society. This old Jesuit, who shall remain nameless, sighed sadly and said wistfully: "who ever said that the Society would last forever"?

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget this building was built using the hard-earned money of Catholic faithful -- people, I might add, who often don't live even close to this level of comfort and pomposity.

M. K. said...


I'm a little skeptical of that anecdote, since I've been hearing it for at least a decade, and in various contexts... if indeed your "nameless" Jesuit said it, it certainly wasn't original to him.

Anonymous said...

I am so, so happy for Father Scalese. The NYT approves of his new house. Articles like this make Jesuits appear foolish.