St. Mary’s Catholic Schools & Center
World-renowned for its success merging Chinese culture and traditions with Catholic religious values, St. Mary’s Chinese Schools and Center has served generations of Chinese Americans in San Francisco. Programs include a Catholic elementary K-8 day school, a Cantonese and Mandarin Language School, and bilingual and bicultural spiritual services. Teahouse, St. Mary’s social outreach program, offers courses in English and acculturation, and helps with naturalization and counseling. Educational environments were designed for flexibility and long life, with spaces that adapt easily to suit the needs of the school, its partner institutions, and the community. Accessible day, night, and weekends, the Center’s multiple uses offer efficiency while fostering a sense of community. Located at the dense urban nexus of San Francisco’s Chinatown, North Beach, and Financial District neighborhoods, the new school is part of a larger mixed-use development that also includes 115 units of senior housing and 3.5 levels of subterranean parking. St. Mary’s will continue to foster a strong sense of community and cultivate the next generation of civic leaders and volunteers with 49,450 square feet of new classrooms, science laboratories, a media and library center, administrative offices, a chapel, pastor’s residence, and a multi-purpose gymnasium and auditorium for community gatherings.
The facility was designed to Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) and LEED for School standards, focusing on indoor environmental quality. Participating in PG&E’s Savings By Design program, the project exceeded Title 24 by 15%. The design includes use of low-VOC materials, including tiled linoleum, low-VOC casework and tackable panels, and the design incorporates good acoustics for improved learning environments. Given its location on Kearny Street, one of the City’s main arteries, great care was taken to ensure that the window systems had good STC (sound transmission class) ratings, and that the mechanical system filtered for fresh air. Signage throughout the facility educates students about energy, water, and material efficiency.