The new Priory for the Dominican Friars

Denver, Colorado

Current Status: Programming and Concept Design


The new Priory (living quarters for the Friars) will be just down the block from the parish Church, St Dominic's Catholic Church in Denver's West Highland neighborhood.  PLOT, working with Handprint Architecture and a full consultant team in an integrated project delivery model, provided site analysis, planning, programming and concept design services for the initial phase of development.   The fundamental purpose of the Priory is to facilitate and support the communal life of the brothers and novices and their pursuit of the Four Pillars -- Prayer, Common Life, Study, and Preaching.  A central courtyard, a traditional element from the inception of priories in the middle ages, is seen as an essential feature because Dominican Friars balance public outreach with private contemplation. 

The Courtyard is designed to take advantage of Colorado’s amenable climate, this “cloistered” courtyard will provide a convenient place for the brothers and novices to spend time outdoors.  The courtyard’s nearly complete enclosure will minimize distractions and outside interruptions.  The sloping site suggests a terraced solution to facilitate access from both the 29th Avenue and alley levels (12 vertical feet).  Terraces and stairs create a series of flexible paved spaces offset by a series of quiet garden spaces.  A diagonal line organizes the series of spaces into different sizes to accommodate individuals and progressively larger groups of people.  The courtyard materials are imagined as a mosaic of decorative scored concrete paving and stone or brick pavers and low planting for color and texture, with trees for scale and dappled shade.  Turf grass is minimized for reduced maintenance and water use.