Maris Stella Conference Center and Chapel Renovation

Sister’s of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Harvey Cedars, New Jersey

Situated on the Barnegat Bay, the retreat for the Sister’s of Charity of Saint Elizabeth occupies an open five-acre compound. The property was originally developed as a vacation home for a corporate business owner in the early 1900’s. Once the Sister’s obtained the property in the 1950’s, the use of the site and existing buildings had to be reconsidered. This project combines the renovation of the Chapel (once the boat house) and the addition of a Conference Center.

The Sister’s primary concern was to approach the design in an ecologically friendly and environmentally sensitive way. The renovated Chapel and new Conference Center are coupled together by a geothermal and solar panel energy system with sprayed soybean based insulation and white EPDM roofing maintaining efficient building envelopes. The rainwater is used to irrigate the site’s vegetation. Long, tall windows in the west facades of both buildings take in the views of the bay and expansive landscape.

The interiors of the buildings keep the same sensitivity in mind. Reclaimed Douglas Fir beams from the existing floor structure of the Chapel were refinished and fabricated into all the Liturgical furniture in the Chapel. Cork and bamboo floors along with recycled tiles and plastic bathroom stall panels were used. The dynamic shape of the Conference Center accents the grounded form of the Chapel.


Michael Ryan Architects, collaboration with Christopher Jeffrey Architect