We asked, and you told us! To help our new families get to know Stuart a little better, we asked our community to tell us their favorite spaces around school. Every Tuesday leading up to the first month of school, we’ll share one of those spaces. Check back each week to learn about another space around Stuart.
Tour Tuesday Week 1: Townsend Garden
First up is the Townsend Garden, a favorite space outside of Millie’s Garden (the Lower School) and the STEM Link which is used by many for reading, collaborating, or quiet reflection. The space was dedicated in 1993 by Stuart parent and grandparent Charles C. Townsend Jr. in honor of his first wife Ann during the 30th anniversary celebration of the founding of Stuart. Also in the space is The Barat Cross (center of the photo), which was donated by Mr. and Mrs. James Callery, parents of Fidelma ’85.
Tour Tuesday Week 2: Stairway of Physical Fitness
This week’s spot is also one of our Sacred Spaces. Leading to the Little Theatre and gymnasium is the Stairway to Physical Fitness by architect Jean Labatut. Most staircases at Stuart are designed for young and old—the young can fly up or down the closely spaced steps without fear of falling and for the old, each step serves as a landing. One does not climb, as on a ladder, one flows, as if in space.
Tour Tuesday Week 3: Zen Garden
In 1963, Architect Jean Labatut created this private garden in the inner part of the school to give the nuns a meditative space for quiet reflection. The peaceful garden remains an area for faculty and the girls, and the view is enjoyed from the Dining Room as well as through small windows in “C” Corridor—built as the convent wing. The large spout above the garden with a cross funnels water to all parts of the building!
Innovative hardscape and landscaping have transformed the Zen Garden into a beautiful, collaborative space to be used for both outdoor dining and learning. Led by Stuart’s Director of Facilities and Sustainability Darren Malone, who is an architect, the new design was developed with great mindfulness that the Zen Garden is one of Stuart’s sacred spaces and has deep historic meaning to the school and Stuart community. The result is a stunning and tranquil outdoors space with nooks and crannies for both contemplation and collaboration as well a wonderful gathering area for larger groups.
Through their support of the Fund-A-Need at the Parent Prom and Gala last spring, Stuart parents have helped us to respectfully convert the space into an incredibly useful and vibrant resource for our community.
Tables of different sizes are carefully placed throughout the space, and clustered boulders accented by plant groupings are designed for individuals or smaller groups to gather. Sitting benches will be added soon. Solar-powered lanterns and spotlights are strategically located to help illuminate the space for evening events. Plenty of pebbles remain throughout, lining perimeters and pathways in the renovated Zen Garden, and every boulder is original, with one exception. A new boulder with a challis-shaped dip in the center has been intentionally placed beneath the waterspout of the Chapel to catch the spill off when it rains. Our contractor (whom Darren calls the boulder whisperer) literally walked the campus property to find the perfect fit. Two additions are of special note–Japanese maple trees that were previously on the property of the St. Thomas Aquinas Society in Princeton. The trees were going to be discarded when the property was sold and our landscaper was able to transplant the two 40-year-old trees into our garden.
As former Headmistress Sister Judy Garson remarked of the newly renovated Zen Garden when she returned for an event, “Jean Labatut would most certainly approve.”
Tour Tuesday Week 4: Cor Unum
This week for Tour Tuesday, we gather in Cor Unum.
Designed by renowned architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Cor Unum is used for the arts, signature events, guest speakers, Mass, prayer services, holiday shows and more. Our year begins in Cor Unum with our traditional Flag Ceremony and closes with graduation.