The expansion of Sitzmann Hall on the St. Thomas campus has won an award from the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission.

The commission this evening, Tuesday, May 18, will honor the project in the “New Addition to a Historic Building” category of its annual competition. The project was judged by the quality of its design, workmanship and materials; the respectfulness of its historic and architectural character; and its impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

St. Thomas expanded Sitzmann, the home for the Center for Catholic Studies, last year to allow for more office and classroom space, a chapel and an elevator, and added a Marian shrine in the backyard.

St. Thomas needed HPC approval for the expansion because Sitzmann is in the West Summit Avenue Historic District. The university consulted with the West Summit Neighborhood Advisory Committee on the project for more than a year.

“The design of the addition is complementary to the scale and appearance of the neighborhood and is not visible from Summit Avenue,” said Kurt Dale of Anderson Dale Architects in describing the project. “Along Cleveland Avenue, the former flat roof area is enclosed, completing the slope of the existing roof with dormers like those (that already existed on the Cleveland side).”

By creating subtle but distinct separations between the existing building and the addition through the use of glass, the scale of the overall building was reduced, Dale said, and made it fit more comfortably in the neighborhood.

McGough Construction was the contractor on the $4.2 million, 4,700-square-foot expansion, paid for entirely by contributions from Catholic Studies benefactors. The building reopened last fall.

Sitzmann, a Georgian Revival building, was constructed in 1927 as a single-family house. St. Thomas acquired the house in 1943, used it for classes and music lessons and named it for Dr. Anthony Chiuminatto, Music Department chair from 1946 to 1973. The building was renovated for Catholic Studies in 2002-2003 and named for Eugene and Faye Sitzmann of St Paul, who are benefactors of the program.

To read more about the addition to Sitzmann Hall, see the December 2009 issue of Perspectives, the Catholic Studies magazine.