Ave Maria University Oratory

Ave Maria

Ave Maria University is a private Catholic university in Southwest Florida, United States, founded in 2003. The university moved to its permanent campus, situated in the planned town of Ave Maria, 17 miles east of Naples, Florida. The completed oratory seats 1,110 people and is the centerpiece of both Ave Maria University and the surrounding town.

Why was Tilt-Up selected for the project?
To create an oratory building on the campus of Ave Maria University that would not only provide an anchor between the college and the town, but also lend an Italian architectural air, the university looked to the versatility and durability of Tilt-Up concrete. Building on extensive experience overseeing the construction of many other structures on campus, Woodland was hired to build the oratory.

The complicated structure, which features cast recesses and integral returns, required two years of planning, including preliminary panel designs and constructability studies, prior to construction. Each panel was designed with a 5-foot-radius return wall, and all of the panels had to be welded to a steel frame that soared more than 100 feet above the finished floor.

While the large, heavy panels were an asset in that they solved a structural uplift challenge, both forming the layered panels (which were poured in three mobilizations to achieve a three-dimensional effect) and lifting them into place (which was done with a 300-ton crane, and required embeds consisting of 1-inch steel tubes attached to 8 feet of rebar) proved to be a challenge for the contractor. Once the panels were placed, an imported Italian stone block finish was applied to the exterior to match the Italian aesthetic of the surrounding buildings.

2008 TCA Tilt-Up Achievement Award – Spiritual Division