Category: Institutional
Location: St. Louis, MO
Size: 77,675 sq. ft.
Masonry Used: 160,000 face bricks, 60,000 CMU, 10 tons of ruble stone, and 1,950 cu.ft./1,600 pcs of cast stone.
Submitted by: Hastings+Chivetta Architects, Inc.

Project Description

Chaminade College Preparatory School, an independent Catholic institution in the Marianist tradition, was in need of new and expanded facilities for their award-winning arts programs. Hastings+Chivetta was hired to plan and design the new facility. As the campus' signature building, the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts is sited to be highly visible from the main campus entry along a major roadway. It is designed to complement the historic Chaminade Hall, orienting student entrances toward the historic existing building. The new facility supports the school's successful music, drama, visual and communication arts programs. Spaces include a 999-seat proscenium theater, a 150-seat black box theater, two-story scene shop, visual arts classroom/studios, ensemble band rooms, individual practice rooms, offices, and support spaces. An art gallery concourse connects the public and student entrances.

The Skip Viragh Center for the Arts project consisted of substantial masonry design. The building team utilized a diverse amount of masonry products to create a facility that is very compatible with the existing masonry buildings on campus, but which also provides a modern, state-of-the-art and updated look for the campus.

The interior lower level partitions are made up almost entirely of non-load bearing CMU. A large amount of these are fire rated walls attributing to the life safety schematics of the building. Masonry partition walls were also chosen for their durability in a performing arts environment. Life cycle costs are 35% less than drywall or "soft" partitions. The installation of 60,000 CMU in a period of time to allow other team members to continue their work proved to be the largest challenge of this masonry schedule.

The exterior of the building is an insulated, cavity wall veneer, with air barrier. This is a proven system in modern masonry design. Any moisture that permeates the "masonry skin" is directed to flashings and weeps to exit the wall cavity. Face brick, pre cast stone and ruble stone were all incorporated into the facade. The design team utilized banding, cornice features, panels and even some brick special bonding and decorative brick panels to replicate the look of the existing buildings. Close observation must be made to even tell that this is a new building on campus. Designers carefully matched the "old quarried" ruble stone found on Chaminade Hall. Wisconsin Lannon was used and lightly etched to oxidize the chiseled face to match the adjacent building's stone foundation. "Wet pour" pre-cast stone was used to match the limestone originally used as well.

Another challenging facet of the masonry schedule was the restriction of a small site. All school operations were ongoing while construction occurred. The south wall of the building was literally on the main drive to enter the campus. This wall was loaded up with masons and veneered during spring break, much to the surprise of students and faculty as they returned the next week.

The entire design and construction team worked together seamlessly to create a signature and state-of-the-art facility that met Chaminade's needs and requirements. Having already received accolades and renown throughout St. Louis, the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts will be recognized as a stand-out performing and fine arts facility for years to come.

Project Participants

Owner: Chaminade College Preparatory School

  • Architect/Desinger: Christopher Chivetta, PE, LEED AP - Principal-in-Charge, Hastings+Chivetta Architects, Inc.
  • Structural Engineer: Marc Alper, PE, SE - Principal, Alper Audi, Inc.
  • General Contractor: Ron Warner, S.M. Wilson & Co.
  • Masonry Contractor: Robert M. Heitkamp, Jr., Heitkamp Masonry Inc.
  • Face Brick Supplier: Joe Semanism, Richards Brick Co.
  • CMU Supplier: Ryan McClard, Kirchner Block and Brick
  • Cast Stone Supplier Supplier: Mark Rose, Structural Stone Inc.
  • Ruble Stone Supplier: Rob Harrison, Earthworks
  • Theater Consultant: Michael DiBlasi, Schuler Shook
  • Acoustical & Audiovisual Consultant: Russ Olsen, Acoustical Design Group