Opus Gives Saint Joan of Arc in Minneapolis a Needed Functional Update

​For many years since outgrowing the original church sanctuary, Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Community in Minneapolis has held weekly mass in the gymnasium attached to the school. It has worked well, with the exception of one important thing—a space for parishioners to gather for fellowship after mass. The church chose Opus, with its extensive experience delivering projects of all sizes for religious communities, to design and build an official Welcome Center at the entrance to the gymnasium. 

Opus' Client Direct Services and collaborative design-build process appealed to the church committee responsible for the project for several reasons:

  • It eliminated scope creep and potential increased costs for the church.
  • It also accelerated the schedule for design and construction.

The 4,000-square-foot Welcome Center was completed in 2017 and provides a dedicated area for fellowship, as well as a multi-purpose space for meetings, dinners, concerts and overflow seating for the gymnasium. In addition to the Welcome Center space, Opus made several other improvements to the building and property. The church lacked storage space, so a storage area was built below the Welcome Center. Exterior improvements were also made, including updated outdoor lighting, a new parking lot, a paved plaza at the building entrance and new landscaping.

Design-Build Expertise Addresses Building Challenges

The Welcome Center abuts the existing building on three sides, each side representing three stand-alone building additions that happened between 1950 and the late 1990s. This resulted in several design challenges the Opus design team creatively resolved. 

The existing building had four different roof levels, so Opus designed a unique new “cooper patina" pyramid roof that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. A storm water ponding issue that troubled the church for many years was also mitigated. And during construction, due to the age and design of the building, an earth retention wall was required in order to excavate the basement and support the existing building throughout the process. 

For the building enclosure, Opus integrated brick, glass and patina-colored architectural metal to closely match adjacent existing building finishes. On the interior, the brick walls that were formerly exterior building walls were incorporated into the design, and Opus created an exposed timber structure to complement the existing Douglas Fir timber in the attached gymnasium. 

Sustainably Built

With a focus on sustainability, all glass has low-e coating, all interior and exterior lights are LED, and the parking lot includes two conduits for future electric car charging stations. To utilize non-tempered outside air, a high-efficiency rooftop unit with a CO detector was installed. Throughout the project, 80% of construction waste was recycled, including reclaiming and using old asphalt as the base for the new parking lot. 

Parishioners began using the Welcome Center in fall 2017.