Catholic, liberal-arts Neumann University established the Mirenda Center to promote sports as a means of moral and spiritual growth and to support the school’s Franciscan values. The building shifts the focus from sport as a physical competition to one of personal reflection and shows the connection between mind, body, and spirit. The center offers students in sports management, pastoral counseling, and spiritual direction an opportunity to examine and integrate this seldom-explored perspective in a state-of-the-art fitness and sports facility.
Elevate Architects + Collaborators and Neumann University challenged ex;it to incorporate the story and mission of the Institute for Sport Spirituality and Character Development, set to become a new center of campus. Through exploration of the connections between sports and human development, the interpretive program would accentuate the Franciscan values of fair play, beauty, courtesy, respect, gratitude, contemplation, and stewardship.
ex;it led a group of Neumann stakeholders through an eight-month process of content development, facilitating and organizing topics that would be interesting, dynamic, and inspirational. The design concept conveys sports experiences from the perspectives of spectators, coaches, players, and parents. Intended to give the center a voice, the interpretive exhibit will be constructed in phases. The first phase includes value pillars that create a cathedral-like setting in the main lobby. Illuminated glass structures with removable glass panels, the pillars describe Franciscan values through images and quotes from scripture and notable sports figures. Inspirational from a distance and intimate when near, the pillars are dramatic and engaging. Neumann-specific recollections appear on acrylic column-wraps throughout the building. Future phases of the interpretive exhibit will include interactive story-telling installations with web-based feedback sharing along with health and fitness education panels along primary walkways.