Building Healthy Community at Mission San Jose

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Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose

Set back in the Fremont foothills, a visit to the historic Mission San Jose District can take you back in time to another world. Founded in 1876, the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose have been an integral part of our community for over 140 years now. While their roots may run deep, these women are anything but old school!

When they decided they wanted to build a new facility, one of their top design requirements was that it be done in a highly sustainable manner and with the goal of achieving LEED certification. Hillhouse, of course was not only up for this green building challenge, but we were also eager to construct a project that would have great impact on our local community. While the Sisters have provided programs and services for years, they also embraced a vision to share their campus with others. In the process of planning and designing their 36-unit apartment style residential facility for active retired Sisters, they decided to add a large community space to be shared with local non-profits and community groups.

Hillhouse Construction at Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose

The previous priory residence building was completely demolished and replaced with a new three wing structure. The new St. Joseph Residence and Dominican Center officially opened in spring 2016. Along with the Sisters, we are proud to announce LEED Gold certification of the 49,000 sq. ft. building. Not only was 95% of demo debris reused or recycled, but the design also incorporated local and sustainably sourced materials, LED lighting, high performance glazed windows, reflective and emissive roofing and solar topped parking areas. As part of the landscaping, 24 water retention basins were set up to capture and reuse storm runoff water. However, this isn’t the Sisters’ first green endeavor; they have been interweaving sustainable components in to their dwelling for years. In fact, the campus boasts an organic community garden, mission-era olive orchard, and a new regenerative meadow on their property.

Hillhouse Construction at Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose
Local and regional organizations focused on arts, education, spirituality or wellness are invited to take advantage of the new community space. The facility encompasses a large event/gathering room and atrium, art/activity rooms and wellness areas including a fitness and cardio studio and in-ground therapy pool. The building is also surrounded by abundant patio courtyard space to support outdoor activities as well.

The Sisters are ecstatic to have this new space, which enables them to reach out and serve people both inside and outside their Catholic community. The new collaborative space has already hosted events sponsored by the Fremont Education Foundation, the Fremont Symphony Orchestra, Fremont Unified School District and musical organizations associated with the Dominican Sisters School of Music, which provides youth and adult music lessons for 120 students annually. Other collaborative partners include – ASEB (Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay) scheduled to open a daytime memory care program on the campus and On Lok Lifeways, providing senior care services to the Sisters and community.

Because this new, green facility brings a host of new services to our community the Dominican Sisters project has been nominated for the Silicon Valley Business Journal Structures Awards in the Community Impact division.

Architect: Barker Wagoner Architects | CM: Pound Management
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