Higher Education

Greenhouse Chapel

Situated at the highest point in Westchester County, the Louis Calder Center was formerly a 113-acre wooded hunting ground for the social elite of New York. Since its acquisition by Fordham University, it has transformed into a nature preserve and biological research field station.

The university sought to establish a Theological Research and Retreat center to provide its religious community with a natural setting in which to hold retreats, seminars, and meditation workshops. Critical to the design was the stipulation that an existing structure on the property had to be used to minimize the impact on the natural ecology. After an initial site survey, a dilapidated Lord & Burnham greenhouse was selected because of the natural views and relative size.

The design centered around connecting to the natural setting and striving for Net Zero. Double-thick insulated walls, photovoltaic solar panels, geothermal heating, and operable window shades allow the building to capture heat in winter and reflect it during summer. A geothermal heating system was also designed to capture heat from the adjacent working greenhouse.

©kbl Architects 2024