Felician Sisters Motherhouse

The Felician Sisters community had an average age of 77, and their population needed a facility that would support aging in place. As part of the project, the Sisters also wanted to renovate the associated high school, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH). To understand the goals for the project, an extensive community engagement and master planning process was undertaken with all the stakeholders.

The renovated convent was organized into households to minimize the institutional feel of the old building and provide an integrated community for all of the Sisters, regardless of their health. As Franciscan nuns who care deeply about the environment, the new convent culture includes recycling, vermicomposting, locally sourced food, and green cleaning. An inter-generational library, chapel, and auditorium are now shared with the school, bringing generations together.

The project was one of the first LEED Gold projects in Pittsburgh. Project features include a 7-acre meadow, a solar domestic hot water system, and a PV array. Air-quality was improved through controlled mechanical ventilation, low VOC materials, and a green cleaning program. The pulmonary health of the Sisters improved significantly post-construction. There was extensive use of reclaimed materials throughout: over a mile of trim, over an acre of hardwood flooring, and several hundred doors were all reused. Laura Nettleton led the project when she worked at Perkins Eastman.

AAHSA Design for Aging 2006 winner

Leading Age Design for Aging 2006 winner

NAHB 50+ Senior Living Award  2006

ABC Western PA Historical Structures Awards 2004

NESEA Green Building Awards 2004

AIA Pittsburgh Chapter 2004

Environmental Design and Construction Excellence in Design 2004

Western Pennsylvania Environmental Council Green Design Winner 2003



  • LEED Gold rating LEED NC 2.0
  • Produces 75% of domestic hot water through Solar Thermal System
  • 30% reduction in energy after adding ventilation system
  • One of the first LEED Gold buildings in Pittsburgh

“These doors are the doors that...Sisters before me have touched.” 

Member of the Felician Community