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St. Augustine Preparatory School - Buondonno Forum

Butler Manufacturing

St. Augustine Preparatory School in Richland, NJ, offers an excellent example of the eight preparatory high schools developed by The Order of St. Augustine in the U.S. and Canada. This highly-regarded all-boys high school completed a building program of comparable high quality recently that met the desired architectural character within the fixed schedule and budget. The $20-million, multi-purpose facility, dedicated as the Louis & Josephine Buondonno Forum, is the fourth major element in the campus infrastructure and creates a collegiate-like Quad on the 118-acre campus. The Forum features metal building systems from Butler Manufacturing.

The balance of rigorous academics, self disciplined character building and 19, highly ranked interscholastic sports caused enrollment at “The Prep” to steadily climb for more than a decade, according to Father Paul Galetto, OSA, himself a graduate of the high school in the 1970s. Now an Augustinian priest and President of the school, he notes that the enrollment reached 680 students this school year which requires a staff of 60 teachers. To maintain their standards of excellence, The Augustinians may throttle back the enrollment and level it off to within a range of 650 to 670 students, he said.

“The first class numbered 15 boys but that would change, particularly since the mid-1990s,” Father Galetto noted.

The Prep has thus far graduated more than 2,000 students - 100 percent of the senior classes in recent years - who have advanced to colleges and eventually into successful careers. Local residents and the high school alumni continue to support the school, as evident in the $6-million pledged or directly donated to The Forum’s capital campaign even before the groundbreaking.

Activity Hub For The School

The 96,000-sq.-ft. Forum has quickly become a pivot point in student traffic and routines. With its spacious lobby and full-height stone fireplace, the lounge of the two-story facility is a magnet for students during free time and makes a strong first impression on visitors and parents of prospective students. The project more than doubled the space of the two existing academic facilities with the fourth reserved as the residential rectory for the school’s seven priests.

The spatial plan provides a classic-style 60-seat chapel; six classrooms of which four are state-of-the-art science labs and two are lecture rooms; a 400-seat dining hall; a 1,500-seat gym that can subdivide into two basketball courts; an eight-lane Olympic size swimming pool with bleacher seating for 300 spectators, along with  other training, support and offices space. Fields for football, lacrosse and soccer, in addition to expanded parking, are other outdoor assets. Renovations to the existing two academic buildings also occurred during the program.

Manders Merighi Portadin Farrel Architects LLC applied hybrid design and materials solutions to the project that was built by Stanker & Galetto, Inc., a Butler Builder® also officed in Vineland, NJ. The school adopted design/build project delivery for the project to instill flexibility and control over the costs and 14-month schedule. The goal was to have the building ready by fall following the construction start and in time for student use of the swimming and basketball elements. The targeted completion date to serve those sports was kept in sight as the project’s design and materials options underwent extensive value engineering. When the opening whistle blew for both sports that term, the building was operational.

The frontage, housing the academic and office space, was executed in brick that matches the other buildings. A long arcade, whose arches form a covered walkway on the south and east sides of The Forum, adds a classic monastic character to the new facility. The two-story use of brick and cast stone suggest traditional college buildings but with clearly contemporary traits. The massive entry doors open into the impressive lobby with its stone fireplace that is the visual centerpiece. This main interior meeting space is the circulation hub off the various spaces and a comfortable lounge where students congregate.      

In the portion with the pool, dining hall and gymnasium, the use of metal building systems provided the best solution for the needed clear span interiors. The custom structural framing that was part of the mix of steel building systems supplied by Butler Manufacturing.

Ground-face concrete block was used to create the inside walls and instills the desired traditional look, along with the needed load-bearing support for the second-floor level of the building. Butler also supplied the high-performance MR-24® standing seam metal roof system over most of the complex except for the loggia where the architect specified the Butler VSR™ architectural standing seam metal roof system. Two types of Butler metal wall systems were then used to enclose the non-masonry areas of the building.

Building In Sustainable Features

The Augustinians have embarked on a recycling and other “green” initiatives. The Forum’s environmentally friendly and superbly energy-efficient design adhere to this commitment. In some respects, the building’s design and operational features provide real-life examples that students can examine and discuss in the high school’s engineering classes.

The heavily-insulated Butler metal roof provides a heat-reflective surface, to conserve energy. In addition, the building has an energy management system and a 15-unit, air-conditioning system that captures the humidity from the air and recirculates the heat energy to help warm the swimming pool. In the restrooms, energy efficient hand driers were installed in place of paper hand towel dispensers. Waterless urinals conserve water and reduce the amount of wastewater generated by the facilities. Because the site is within an environmentally sensitive area known as “The Pinelands”, the project required an environmental impact statement because an on-site wastewater treatment installation was needed due to the prohibitive cost of connecting to a distant sewer line. The on-site plant supplied by F R Mahony is engineered with biologically active filters (BAFS) that use a proprietary process to remove the nitrogen to acceptable levels.

Finally, to help offset potentially sky-high electric bills, The Prep recently brought on-line a photovoltaic energy system. The 1,200 roof- and ground-mounted arrays of solar panels are rated to generate 1300 megawatts—60 percent of the building’s power requirement.

About Butler Manufacturing

Butler Manufacturing™, a division of BlueScope Buildings North America, offers metal building systems. For more information, visit

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