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Siena on the Lake

Creating a space to enrich the broader collaborative ministry + provide a unique community living option for the area

In the early 1960’s the Racine Dominican Sisters created a convent overlooking Lake Michigan which served as their home base and foundation for spiritual ministry. As entry into the order diminished and the age of the Sisters increased, they were faced with hard decisions regarding the future of the convent and spiritual education programs. 

To preserve their legacy, the Racine Dominican Sisters structured a collaborative partnership with Lincoln Lutheran of Racine, a local aged care provider, to create a Continuing Choice Lifestyle Community (CCLC).

The Holistic Solution

EUA’s holistic planning approach covered all aspects, including financial and market viability, assuring that the end result could be implemented. The team understood and fully committed to the mission statement and goals of both organization’s and developed a phased approach.

By maintaining portions of the existing structure, the EUA team was able to repurpose portions of the building, providing substantial cost savings. The design optimized resident views toward Lake Michigan and utilized the iconic chapel and carillon as an anchor for arriving visitors and residents. The campus will continue as an international religious-based destination with the inclusion of a retreat center with a series of guest rooms and conference meeting rooms. 

An Innovative Approach

The residents’ social needs will be served in a central community center with a variety of dining, meeting and recreational venues including a formal fine dining venue, a café/ bistro, a “members” club room, and several game and activity rooms.

The project was designed with an emphasis on holistic wellness and vitality of mind, body, and spirit and with community engagement as a priority. Quality of life amenities which contribute to this approach include:

- An extensive archival and reference library which houses the Racine Dominican historic artifacts?

- A bookstore which compliments the educational programs undertaken in the retreat center?

- Classroom space for music, art, and adult Education and cultural performances?

- A business center where residents can maintain connection to their ongoing office-based needs?

- An extensive wellness center, including an indoor swimming pool, fitness and exercise room, and a spa for those after exercise massages.

 Sustainability for the Future

The master planning process continually addressed financial sustainability for the campus. In addition, the design employs sustainable ecological principles and use of alternative energy sources providing responsible stewardship, a foundational principle goal of the collaborative partnership.

The built environmental design approach included:??

- Use of geothermal heating and cooling?

- Extensive utilization of natural daylighting?

- Retention and repurposing of existing building components?

- Subscription to the Dominican Sisters’ Eco-justice principles

Optimized Design

Following an intensive, holistic master planning process, with EUA leading the planning team, a solution to repurpose the campus to provide a full spectrum of community living environments was developed. 

Optimizing the beautiful Lake Michigan site was a key goal of the design, creating buildings that ensure a maximum number of residence room and public space views of the lake. Understanding the need for future growth and flexibility, the Sisters’ residential units were designed so they can easily be converted to meet the size requirements of future senior living apartments. The team utilized the existing building's underground connections to ensure there is a clear delineation of service between carts, operations, staff and residents to enhance the residential experience.

Click here for a PDF of the Siena on the Lake Case Study