Central Catholic High School has had a profound impact in San Antonio, Texas, since its founding more than 160 years ago. Over a century and a half, the school has educated seven generations of graduates from their historic building on North St. Mary’s. Since 2013 and the launch of the school’s Capital Campaign, the school’s resources began to expand.
Central Catholic recognized that the school needed a place where the community can gather together in a single venue to celebrate athletic events on campus. In June 2018, Joeris began construction on the school’s state-of-the-art convocation center with a gym, chapel, weight room, and prayer garden.
MOTHER ADELE CHAPEL
Crafted with extreme care and thoughtfulness, the chapel is a warm and welcoming space filled with light and love. Designed to enhance a worshiper’s experience, the chapel features an abundance of light and a delicate balance of smooth lines, gentle arches, and balanced color contrast.
Setting the Button’s up for success at the collegiate level, Central Catholic opted to build a basketball court to collegiate regulations of 94 feet long rather than the high school regulation of 84 feet long. Extending the gym an extra 10 feet does more than prepare high school athletes from college; it also allows two basketball games to be played simultaneously on the cross courts as these adhered to regulations standards.
The basketball court was named for Joe Cortez, the Button’s champion coach who led the team to 10 state championships from 1959 to 1995. “Papa Joe,” as he is affectionately referred to, has his own signature predominately displayed across the floor in beautiful Button Blue script. Papa Joe’s signature isn’t the only unique thing on the gym floor – the gym floor is a custom-made, two-tone wood floor. The area around the jump circle and inside the three-point arches feature slightly darker toned wood as compared to the other sections of the court.
While Central Catholic is an all-boy’s school, their sister school for all girls, Providence High School, may, in the future, use this gym for volleyball games. The school wanted the basketball goals installed so that they did not fold up and possibly interfere with a volleyball game. So, instead of retracting up into the top of the gym, the goals fold away to the sides over the bleachers.
The design of this gym is unlike many high school gyms with its two-toned, collegiate-size court and 18 rows of bleachers that can seat 1,600 Button’s fans and guests. New 13-feet by 9-feet state-of-the-art score boards with a digital display were installed in lieu of traditional high school scoreboards. Additionally, the gym includes Kalwall panels that permit natural daylight to filter through but prevent harsh glare and are also energy efficient.
Lining nine feet up the walls of the gym is CMU block with glazed tile in the school’s navy color and wood paneling with aluminum channels from the top of the tile to the ceiling. More than aesthetically pleasing, the tile is a durable material that’s easily cleaned, and the wood paneling features tiny perforations to absorb sound. Installing the wood paneling was one of the most challenging issues.
Connected to the gym are the student’s locker rooms and weight room facilities. Almost fully encased in storefront glass, the weight room is on par with weight rooms found at the collegiate level. Large windows on three sides of the room allow in natural light and a two-sided glass trophy case filled with the school’s trophies reminds the Button’s why they are training so hard. The same wood paneling was used in the weight room for storage and laser-cut Mondo rubber flooring custom created with the Central Catholic logo. The functional space features exposed painted ductwork and decking.
Located outside the chapel is the Prayer Garden. The garden honors Our Lady of the Pillar with a statue, candles, and prayer grotto. Enclosed in ornamental wrought iron fencing, visitors to the garden can hear the soft bubbling lullaby of the fountain as they walk through the lush green space, taking a moment by sitting on the benches to pray or reflect.
The location in the city where Central Catholic is located was once a residential area of San Antonio. Prior to the construction of the project, the City of San Antonio’s Historical Preservation Department identified possible underground structures that needed to be excavated first. A team of archaeologists descended on the site and spent two weeks discovering and cataloging their finds.
Concrete limestone footings and a foundation and wooden timbers from a centuries-old house were found, as well as other artifacts including horseshoes, milk bottles, and an iron. The city turned over the reports to Central Catholic, advising the school and project team to leave the foundation underground and approving foundation of the Convocation Center.
Installing the wood paneling in the gymnasium was, by far, the most challenging and labor-intensive scope of work completed on this project. Absolute perfection was required in the installation because if the panels were not installed exactly level then the wood paneling would not be aligned around the entire gym, causing a visual disharmony.
Meticulously installed row by row beginning at the floor, all aluminum trim pieces were first placed on the wall followed by the wood panels which where clipped into place. Special attention was given to where the trim pieces met with corners and windows, ensuring each piece of trim aligned perfectly horizontally and vertically with adjacent pieces. Installing all the wood paneling in the gym took 12 weeks, which equates to nearly a quarter of the project schedule.
Central Catholic celebrated the completion of the Convocation Center the summer before the start of the 2019-2020 school year with a blessing in their new chapel. Attended by the community, including past alumni, celebration of this accomplishment and excitement for future possibilities was the theme of the dedication.
So much more than a chapel, gym, and garden, these spaces will allow Central Catholic’s young men to grow academically, morally, and spiritually.
Joeris General Contractors is a premier Texas builder since 1967 with more than $4 billion in commercial construction completed statewide, www.joeris.com.