An Innovation Prototype of Passive Design Strategies

Annunciation Academic Center

Mount Angel Abbey

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


St. Benedict, OR

Year Complete


2008 Hammurabi Project of the Year — Masonry Institute of Oregon

2008 National Hammurabi Award — Masonry Institute Awards

2008 Outstanding Professional Achievement Award — ASLA Oregon Awards

2008 Silver Award, House of Worship Category — National Brick in Architecture

2006 Best of Grand Award — Northwest Construction (Oregon/Washington) Awards

2006 Best of Sustainable Award — Northwest Construction Awards

Sustainable Design

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.

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.