Monastery Hall Becomes Science Center

Henry Bros. Co. transformed a 28,000 S.F. former monastery into a 21st-century science center for Marist High School. Originally built in 1963 as home to 35 Marist Brothers, the space is now a high-tech, STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—education center that includes ten science labs. These include two biology labs, two chemistry labs, two physics labs, an anatomy and physiology lab, a forensics crime lab, and an environmental lab.

A centerpiece of the project is an observatory dome and upper-level deck for astronomy studies. The observatory is located in a new addition that features a substructure foundation with a canopy that supports the dome. Inside the dome, students experience state-of-the-art, three-dimensional projections of night skies that show planets, galaxies, constellations, and other interplanetary features. These visuals are accompanied by music for a full immersion effect. The street level of the dome support structure houses a Tribute Room dedicated to the Marist Brothers.

Because the original monastery was a stand-alone structure, HBCo was required to build a two-story corridor to seamlessly connect it to the existing high school. The monastery also had an enclosed courtyard. This was filled in allowing for more usable space on the first and second floors. A key component of the project, due to unstable soils, was the installation of a helical pier system to support both existing and new footings for the added design loads. Throughout the project, careful attention was taken to ensure new MEP and other systems in the building supported all science center needs.

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Marist High School


Chicago, IL


K-12 Education

Delivery Method

Construction Management


Fox & Fox Architects

Square Footage


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