Students at the College of Saint Benedict were greeted with a host of exciting changes when they returned to campus at the end of August. Over the summer months, Saint Ben’s unveiled a series of extensive refresh projects that effectively fuse the College’s rich history with modern architecture and 21st century learning spaces.

The Main Building, the first building of the college, finished a massive interior renovation to update classrooms and house the CSB/SJU Economics, Mathematics, Psychology and Computer Science Departments, as well as the Nursing Department.

Clemen’s Library was renovated over the summer months to create new study spaces for students and groups, and to bring IT services and experiential learning to a more central location on the Saint Ben’s campus.

These transformations of the College’s key spaces are exciting on their own. But in order to make these projects possible, administrative offices had to move locations on campus. The key domino that started these projects moving forward was the 2016 purchase of three historic buildings from Saint Benedict’s Monastery.

Those buildings were remodeled to create the Guy and Barbara Schoenecker Commons – a new home for the college’s Malone Admission Welcome Center and an assortment of administrative offices. This freed up space in the Main Building to create modern academic space.

Those who work in Schoenecker Commons are greeted everyday by a view of Sacred Heart Chapel and a stunning print of Sister Thomas Carey’s ‘Star of Morning’. Sister Thomas Carey was a member of Saint Benedict’s Monastery for 67 years, an art teacher for 48 years, as well as a prolific artist of unique sacred art. She left a lasting legacy through her artistic work, her spiritual and intellectual contributions and her quiet presence within the monastery. This artwork is one of many details that makes Schoenecker Commons a unique space to work.

(Fun Fact: All of Sister Thomas’ work are unsigned. This is truly the sign of a great Benedictine, her ability to work steadily at her work without ambition for fame of recognition.)

In fact, it’s not just the CSB/SJU community taking notice of this space…

On July 25, Schoenecker Commons was recognized by Twin-Cities-based Finance and Commerce as one of their Top Projects of 2018. To select their Top Projects, Finance and Commerce engaged a panel of judges to look at the degree of difficulty, creativity in design, innovative construction techniques, cooperation among contractors and management, and sustainability efforts.

In recognizing Schoenecker Commons, Finance and Commerce noted how “the project consisted of remodeling three buildings of unique construction, with different elevations for each. Two buildings were also connected by a new addition that called for a seamless blend between the disparate buildings.”

Earlier this year, Schoenecker Commons also received a 2019 Award of Excellence from the Minnesota Construction Association.

Next time you’re on the College of Saint Benedict campus for a sporting event or a fine arts programming performance, take a walk past Schoenecker Commons to see the changes for yourself.