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Mount St. Michael Students Re-Design Garden Area of Champagnat Hall


The Garth area at the back of Champagnat Hall is gearing up for a long overdue renovation.  Last month the Brothers at Champagnat Hall met with several Mount Saint Michael Academy students who are members of the Architecture Club to discuss ways of improving the Garth so it could be more accessible and elder-friendly.



Now in it’s second year, the Architecture Club attracts students with an interest in architecture and offers them hands-on experiences in designing living spaces and structures that meet real needs.  Last year the club, under the direction of the club’s moderater Jim Hage, and Raymond Beerler, an architect with Gallin Beerler Design Studio of Pleasantville, NY, designed a state-of-the-art athletic center that could one day become a reality for Mount St. Michael.

This year’s project brings our senior Brothers and students from the Mount together to work on a common project: the makeover of the Garth. While the project aims to improve the quality of life for our Brothers it also keeps them active in our Marist educational mission among youth.  The project gives the Brothers an opportunity to mix with young people and to share with them their stories, their spirituality, and the importance placed on community in their lives.  

For the students this project provides a unique opportunity to see how architecture and design can enhance the quality of life for this special population.  Under the guidance of Mr. Beerler, the students will learn how to work with a client when developing designs to meet their specific needs.  They will also learn about accepted professional standards in the field of architecture and design and confront several engineering challenges relating to this project:  building codes and permits, the use of building materials that will need to stand up to the hot and humid conditions in the summer and the snows and cold of winter, drainage and irrigation issues, and, of course, suitable landscaping design. 



The discussion, led by the students and Mr. Beerler was lively and focused on the question: “What do we need to include in the Garth renovations that would make your garden a more inviting, comfortable, and attractive place for your enjoyment?”


With little hesitation the Brothers offered the following ideas:

  • Walking paths that are wide and level

  • An enlarged koi pond that might include a walk-over bridge

  • Repositioning the Stations of the Cross so they follow an expanded walking path throughout the Garth

  • Include a variety of seasonal blooming flowers and shrubs and a Christmas Tree that could be decorated and lite at night

  • Outdoor lighting that would highlight the garth’s new look so it can be enjoyed at night or looked into at night from the bedrooms rooms above

  • An in-ground irrigation system to eliminate hoses that are hazardous when walking

  • Rebuild the trellis by the Grotto area and add additional shaded places to sit and relax, read a book, or pray

  • A covered pavilion with a barbeque pit that would provide shade for outdoor eating

  • Attractive fencing that would hide storage sheds and the generator as well as provide privacy

  • An outdoor bathroom facility


The students and the Brothers will meet several times throughout the semester to review designs as they come to a consensus for a final design that will make the Garth a place the Brothers can use for their enjoyment and relaxation.

This project offers a long range benefits for both our senior Brothers who are looking for more usable outdoor living space and the students who are interested in pursuing a career in architecture, engineering, and design.