Klar and Klar Architects: Holy Names Monastery Addition Serves Community

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New Wing will Help Benedictine Sisters of Florida Provide Hospitality to Visitors and Retreat Participants. This addition is the culmination of a relationship that came to life through a mutual commitment to supporting those in need.

Roberta Klar, Co-Principal of Klar and Klar Architects, talks about the design of the Holy Names Monastery.

An addition to the Holy Names Monastery, home of the Benedictine Sisters of Florida, was recently completed in February 2017. Designed by Klar and Klar Architects, the 4,000 square foot addition, finished two years after the completion of the main monastery, will house guests to the Florida Benedictine Order. The addition, which serves as part of the sisters’ original master plan for a new monastery, includes 10 bedrooms.

“We are proud to help the Benedictine Sisters of Florida fulfill their mission to serve both the local community and the community of God,” says Roberta Klar, Co-Principal of Klar and Klar Architects. “This addition is the culmination of a relationship that came to life through a mutual commitment to supporting those in need.”

The Benedictine Sisters of Florida originally contacted Klar and Klar Architects after learning of their Veterans Housing Facility on the Homeless Empowerment Project (HEP) campus in Clearwater at a seminar on area homelessness. At the time, the sisters lived in a 100,000 square foot, 1950’s facility that originally operated as a high school dormitory. The sisters had lived in the old multi-story school since 1960.1 While the building originally housed 65 nuns, the space had become too large and expensive for the 14 sisters that inhabit the monastery today.1,2

Klar and Klar worked closely with the sisters to create a master plan that serves their immediate and long-term needs. Ideas and wishes for the project were developed during a one day charrette where the sisters shared what was most important to them. After God, the sisters’ love of nature and music stood out as possible design inspiration.3

“We gave the monastery a contemporary organic aesthetic that is both in-tune with the sisters’ love of nature and resonates with the surrounding landscape,” adds Klar. “The building is also energy efficient which serves to protect our environment and save on energy costs.”

Klar and Klar finished the design of the main monastery in the fall of 2014. The original design included a light-filled chapel, administration office, community dining and living areas and 20 private bedrooms. The living areas and exterior porches constitute 15,700 square feet. Soon after moving into their new home, the Sisters installed a hydroponic garden that grows fish and vegetables together.

The Benedictine Sisters of Florida are dedicated to living the monastic way of life and working in ministries that serve the People of God and further the Gospel message.4 For 125 years, the Benedictine Sisters of Florida have played a significant role in the spiritual growth of the local community.1 However, their ministry extends beyond the spiritual. For example, the sisters provide a Thanksgiving meal every year which feeds more than 200 people.1 In addition, they have been instrumental in local schools and have served on organization boards including Sunrise Spouse Abuse Shelter, Saint Leo University Haitian Mission Project, Florida Association for the Education of Young Children, Catholic Charities, Coalition for the Homeless, Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, and DayStar Hope Thrift Store and Food Pantry.1

About Klar and Klar:

Klar and Klar Architects, Inc. is a full-service architectural and interior design firm located in the Tampa Bay area. Since the firm’s inception in 1992, Klar and Klar’s mission has been to enhance peoples lives through design excellence and create and build an environment that will sustain the test of time. The firm’s aesthetic focuses on contemporary organic artistic design and integration of energy-saving technology. Roberta S. Klar and Steven Klar, the founders and co-principals of Klar and Klar, emphasize a team approach which enables each member to contribute their ideas and creativity towards the goal of creating a superior product. In 2017, long-time employee Tim Knowles was added as a partner. Klar and Klar have won numerous awards including the 2013-2014 Project of the Year – Structures Award by the American Public Works Association, the National Merit Design Award by The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), the Excellence in Construction Award by the Associated Builders and Contractors program and the 2011 Business Beautification Recognition Award - Homeless Emergency Project (HEP) by the City of Clearwater and Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.

1.    Manion, B.C. "The New Holy Name Monastery: A Place for Spiritual Growth, Refreshment." The Laker/Lutz News. N.p., 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 June 2017.

2.    Kinsler, Laura. "Benedictine Sisters Plan New Monastery in St. Leo." TBO.com. N.p., 13 Apr. 2013. Web. 30 June 2017.

3.    Buie, Lisa. "Planned Monastery a Blessing for Nuns." Tampa Bay Times. N.p., 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 30 June 2017.

4.    "Welcome." Benedictine Sisters of FL. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2017.

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Karla Jo Helms
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