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St. Martin's Abbey and University Hulscher Courtyard

Landscape Architecture by Jeffrey B. Glander & Associates

A two-acre courtyard suffering from decay and drainage problems at St. Martin's Abbey and University in Lacey, Wash., was transformed with a new tiered water fountain, a 300-foot brick privacy wall with arched windows, a pervious grass paving system and more than 34,000 square feet of stamped architectural concrete.

St. Martin's University in Lacey, Wash., was established in 1895 by the monks of the Roman Catholic Order of St. Benedict and is one of 14 Benedictine colleges in the U.S. The university and its founder, St. Martin's Abbey, sit on 300 acres of peaceful woodlands, meadows and meandering trails.

The oldest and most significant structures on the campus include the "Old Main" administration and admissions building, the monastery and the abbey church. These buildings are centered on a large, two-acre rectangular courtyard with a decades-old perimeter fire lane and underused landscape that suffered from decay brought on by drainage problems and old age. The fire lane was frequently used for parking by delivery vehicles and lost visitors trying to find the admissions office, for which there was little formal wayfinding or identification.


More than 3,000 cubic yards of dirt were removed during construction, replaced with 1,260 cubic yards of stamped concrete in European fan, herringbone, renaissance slate and running bond patterns. New site amenities in the courtyard include benches (Jayhawk Plastics) and lighted safety bollards (Visionaire Lighting).

This college campus plaza and courtyard renovation project stemmed from a desire to functionally and aesthetically improve a very important connective space between the university and the monastery, reduce traffic, replace aging infrastructure and improve drainage while creating a newer, more sustainable environment.

The new Hulscher Courtyard owes its name and its existence to Father Prior Alfred Hulscher, O.S.B., prior of the Abbey. Hulscher has been a member of the Abbey community for more than six decades, first as a graduate of Saint Martin's High School and Saint Martin's College, and later as a teacher, principal and chaplain of the high school before it closed in 1974. Hulscher also served as librarian, bursar and registrar for Saint Martin's University, and chaired the school's Board of Trustees for four years.


The precast concrete arch identifies entry to the abbey and monastery areas of the campus. The entry arch at this gateway and wall "windows" take their shape from the architecture of "Old Main," the administration and admissions building constructed in the 1920s.

The courtyard renovation project grew from Hulscher's discovery of drainage issues on site in 2010, compounding existing problems with the hilltop pavement and infrastructure. Before construction began, no significant upgrades had been made to the courtyard in 41 years. In 2011, the courtyard became part of a larger project to improve the site's north campus, which included resurfaced roads, sidewalks, lighting, landscaping and other upgrades elsewhere on site.

Olympia, Wash.-based landscape architecture firm Jeffrey B. Glander & Associates and civil engineering firm SCJ Alliance designed a renovated outdoor space that provides arrival wayfinding for visitors to St. Martin's University, meditative garden areas for the monks at St. Martin's Abbey, and a seamless transition between fire lanes and plaza areas. The end result created a central courtyard worthy of its importance to the campus.


The university insignia, stenciled into Mesabi black granite (Coldspring Granite), defines the entry point into Old Main and the admissions office. Although regular vehicular use of the plaza is not planned, the pavement radius around the fountain can facilitate delivery trucks and automobile circulation.

The design program called for a "European flavor" that reflected the architectural style of the Old Main, which was built in the 1920's, and the monastic traditions of the abbey's Benedictine monks. The abbey community also desired some privacy between the monastery and the main student/visitor activity areas without feeling too isolated from the campus. The design team prepared seven different schematic concepts that were presented to a design advisory committee consisting of administrators, facility personnel and abbey members.

The final design included a tiered fountain water fountain and the university insignia etched in granite paving and highlighting entry to Old Main and university offices.


About 7,500 square feet of existing asphalt fire lanes were replaced with a Tufftrack Grassroad turf paver system (NDS), which stabilizes the grass root zone with 24-inch square panels of hexagonal cell grids to support heavy vehicles like fire trucks, while naturally filtering stormwater and allowing turf to grow.

Old asphalt driveways and sidewalks were replaced with more than 34,000 square feet of new, colorful stamped architectural concrete. Visitor parking and traffic is directed off-site to create a pedestrian-only atmosphere for the plaza environment.

A 300-foot brick wall provides privacy between the monastery building and the administration offices, but arched windows in the wall allow light and views between the two spaces. Drainage problems were solved with trench drains and underground collection galleries, which direct runoff to a stormwater pond north of Abbey Way.


Trench drains and underground collection galleries were installed to direct runoff to a stormwater pond located north of Abbey Way, correcting drainage problems that threatened the buildings on site.

Sustainable features include the replacement of a significant portion of the asphalt fire lanes with NDS Tufftrack pervious grass paving system, drought tolerant and native plant materials, and extensive use of LED lighting. Site furnishings, drainage improvements, and new pedestrian pathways were also incorporated. The $1.9 million project, which began in May 2012 and concluded with an April 22, 2013, dedication ceremony, won a Washington Aggregates and Concrete Association (WACA) Excellence in Con-struction award in the Architectural/Decorative Concrete category.


A stone pedestal just inside the plaza holds a plaque dedicating the space to Father Prior Alfred Hulscher, a member of the Abbey's monastic community for more than 60 years and a catalyst for the courtyard's renovation.

Project Team
Landscape Architect: Jeffrey B. Glander & Associates, PLLC
Project Manager: Trent Grantham, RLA, ASLA
Civil Engineer: SCJ Alliance
General Contractor: DLB Earthwork Co.
Hardscape Contractor: Allied Concrete Applicators
Site Electrical Engineer: Tres West Engineers, Inc.
Water Feature Plumbing/Electrical: Hultz-BHU


The paving sections were separated with gray concrete bands stamped in a renaissance slate pattern. The stamped concrete sidewalks, new fire lane, tree grates (Iron Age Designs) and bollard lighting replaced an informal parking lot that lacked wayfinding signage and often confused visitors searching for the admissions office.

Benches: Jayhawk Plastics, Blair Bench
Fire Lane: NDS Tufftrack EZroll system
Fountain Basin: Dura Art Stone, Pasadena, CA
Fountain Components: Fountain People, San Marcos, TX
Pathway Bollard Lights: Visionaire Lighting "Ocean Walk"
Precast Concrete: NW Precast, Boise, ID
wall cap, pool coping, wall windows and Abby entry arch
Stamped/Colored Concrete Pavers: Brickform
Patterns: European Fan, Herringbone, Renaissance Slate and Running Bond
Stenciled University Insignia Paving: Coldspring Granite, Redmond WA
Mesabi Black Granite
Tree Grates: Iron Age Designs
'Oblio' with oil baked finish
Tree Well Lights: Winona Lighting
Wall Lights: Kim Lighting

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November 22, 2019, 1:07 pm PDT

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