It’s heavenly when clients get ex-actly what they ask for, but in this case that success is literal.

The Jesuits at Fairfield University asked Gray Organschi Architecture to design a community center that would reflect the group’s commitment to simplicity and spirituality. What they got was this elegant paean executed in metal and wood.

Envisioned as housing for Jesuit priests and for intellectual pursuit, the center is organized into three layers of space. The east side of the building is designed for guests and administrative offices, while the center is for communal gatherings. “They asked for a sense of togetherness, so we tried to create a collective space to promote that,” says Alan Organschi, a principal at the firm. The 15 living units occupy the western side for privacy and for views.

Placed on the shoulder of a steeply sloping site, the building is clad in corrugated Galvalume and strategically placed cypress. “We wanted to celebrate the prosaic materials, but we wanted wood in places where they would actually touch the building,” Organschi explains.

The project is an example of great design execution, but it is also illustrative of environmental stewardship. Operable windows throughout the center promote cross ventilation; fixed-glazed openings permit winter sunlight, which heats the polished concrete floors; and recycled or renewable materials show commitment to conservation. Moreover, an innovative rainscreen cladding system maximizes exterior insulation to reduce thermal conductivity and heat loss. “It helps the building perform a lot better,” Organschi says.