Dominican Sisters House of Formation | San Rafael, CA

Eco Convent Represents Sisters Vision for the Future


The Dominican Sisters House of Formation represents the vision of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael for their future members. This communal-living facility is designed around the principles of green and sustainable building, achieving a Gold LEED™ rating. The building is designed to accommodate active communal engagement, and includes a chapel for worship for the house residents and the greater campus. A meditative garden at the center of the cluster of buildings incorporates a dry creek bed that will collect and retain roof stormwater. All plantings are drought-tolerant or native species, with drip irrigation in the meditative garden and un-irrigated native grasses in the surrounding site.


Create a sustainable communal home for novice sisters, representing the Dominican Sisters stewardship of the future.

project requirements

Incorporate green and sustainable building practices while creating a new home for the sisters including both private and communal worship spaces.


  • Building form and trellis frame meditative garden
  • Chapel for house residents and greater campus
  • House accommodates both private and communal spaces


  • LEED™ Gold Rated
  • Orientation maximizes sun exposure for rooftop solar panels
  • Collection and retention of stormwater
  • Photovoltaic solar panels will provide for up to 95% of electrical power needs
  • Compact massing: Bedrooms and bathrooms are stacked for efficient use of materials
  • Solar hot water heating system with a 90% efficient central boiler
  • Recycled/reclaimed content carpet, gypsum board, insulation, cabinets, linoleum floors, paints, adhesives and sealants.


  • Building size/acres: 6,200 sq.ft./.57 acre
  • Units: 8 Residential Suites
  • Completion: August 2005

Van Meter Williams Pollack LLP