St. Rose of Lima Priests Retirement Home

Diocese of Arlington

Annandale, Virginia


The goal for this project was to create a peaceful, supportive and accessible independent senior living community for up to 20 retired priests. Initially, GBR Architects worked with a Diocesan Committee to develop appropriate space, schedule and cost requirements along with qualitative criteria to evaluate three potential building sites in Fairfax and Arlington counties. The selected site in Annandale, Virginia delivered the best opportunity to meet these diverse requirements.


Following the site selection, GBR Architects designed a residential facility to meet the priests’ unique needs for worship, communal and living spaces. It was decided that the project would be built in multiple phases to provide the necessary housing over time as the diocesan priest population reached retirement age. The initial phase provided for eight priest apartments, a staff apartment, and all shared common areas including foodservice, dining, fitness, and meeting rooms. Of particular importance, the Chapel was designed as a space for both quiet reflection and for a daily Mass celebration. A second phase was constructed to provide an additional eight priest apartments and, if needed to meet housing demands, a third phase would complete the original county-approved master plan.


As designed, the building is set back from a busy and active street. The community wing presents a simple, quiet and dignified face to the street with apartment wings extending back to enclose a central garden that opens to a wooded area and stream bed beyond. The main common spaces all engage and allow easy access to the garden. The flanking apartment wings have single-loaded corridors overlooking the gardens while the individual apartments all look out to more natural wooded landscapes.