Annunciation Academic Center

Mount Angel Abbey

Annunciation Academic Center

Mount Angel Abbey

Annunciation Academic Center

Mount Angel Abbey

An Innovative Prototype of Passive Design Strategies

Mount Angel Abbey wanted a room that felt occupied even when it was empty. We integrated automated reflectors in the classroom skylights so modulated daylight greets students.


21,600 sf

Year Complete



St Benedict, OR


Gold equivalent

Project Tags


Best of Sustainable Award, Northwest Construction, 2006
Best of Grand Award (Oregon/Washington), Northwest Construction, 2006
Hammurabi Project of the Year Award, Masonry Institute of Oregon, 2008
National Hammurabi Award, 2008
Outstanding Professional Achievement Award, ASLA Oregon, 2008
Silver Award (House of Worship Category), National Brick in Architecture, 2008

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The Academic Center for graduate theological study for the seminary at Mount Angel Abbey includes six classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, a board room, and common student spaces. Much care was given to develop a design that reflects the Benedictine values of hospitality, stewardship, craftsmanship and beauty. Sustainable design elements include natural daylighting and ventilation, which take advantage of hilltop breezes. A new courtyard adjacent to the Academic Center replaces a parking lot, creating a more cloistered sense of space for the monastery. All parking and roads were removed from the hilltop and a new plaza and landscaping was built to enhance the monastic character of the environment.

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Operating a Classroom without Electric Lighting

This goal was achieved with a single skylight in each classroom that combines integral louvers and custom reflectors to evenly distribute daylight throughout the room, leaving no dark areas or striated reflections on the ceiling. The integral louvers automatically rotate to control the level of daylight entering the classroom. The light is beautiful and the energy use is low.