Golden Gathering celebrates Franciscan Center

By Mimi Whetstone

Madonna students, faculty, and staff came together on Oct. 21 to celebrate the Franciscan Center’s Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) award, established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute.

“It's a continuation of celebration of this marvelous building,” said Michael Talbot, member of Madonna’s Board of Trustees.

As the first LEED-certified building in Livonia, the Franciscan Center was recognized for an array of sustainable and energy-efficient features, such as natural lighting, motion-detecting lights, low-flush toilets, a storm water diversion and the extensive use of recycled, environmentally friendly materials.

“In LEED, there are different levels of certification,” explained Kenn Rickman,

board president for the Detroit regional chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. “Certified buildings make the base grade level and then there's silver, gold and platinum awards, so achieving this gold certification is a huge accomplishment for the university.”

The one-hour event began with a brief welcome, followed by the award plaque presentation and recognition of key individuals who were a large part of the building’s success.

“It's such a great reflection of Franciscan values,” Talbot said. “The architects, the designers, they really accomplished something great.”

Following a performance of “A Simple Song” by Madonna music students, the festivities continued, as attendees braved the elements for the presentation and blessing of the new crucifix in Cardinal’s Square.

“It’s very handsome, very tasteful, and it’s very powerful,” Talbot said about the crucifix. “It signifies what a Catholic University is all about. It's about maintaining the Catholic identity.”

Following the prayer, those in attendance began singing the hymn “Lord Let Me Walk” as they made their way to St. Francis Pond for the unveiling of the university’s newest sculpture, titled “Edge of the Channel.”

Inspired by the series of drawings “St. Brendan’s Voyage,” Associate Professor and Madonna Art Chairperson Douglas Semivan created the piece with its viewers in mind.

“The analogy there is it’s just a blank sheet of paper, when the artist or the poet is just starting out on a voyage of discovery with his tools, looking at that blank sheet of paper and not knowing where they’re going to go,” Semivan said. “The first couple of things that you do is sort of set the course for the way that the art works out. This is how you, as a Madonna University student, start a voyage. When you finish your education, you're on a journey to the rest of your life. I wanted to point out that that's actually a good thing, just sort of
starting out in front of a blank sheet of paper with all of your skills.”

In addition to the primary audience, Semivan also considered the sculpture’s location in his design.

“The sculpture does not have a front and this piece was designed for this spot,” Semivan explained. “It’s in its design destiny now, here by the sidewalk. Many Madonna students, teachers and families walk by here. What I want everyone to notice when they pass by the sculpture, is that it changes and it's always changing. I know that when it's lit up at night, sparks of light will fly off if its surfaces and it will really glow in the dark. I would like to invite everyone to take a walk around it and see how it moves with your movement.”After the sculpture was revealed, a reception in the Franciscan Centers upper level concluded the Golden Gathering.

“To be awarded Gold is a very difficult feat and it's a great compliment to all of the parties involved,” Talbot said. “The sculpture is very unique. It really is a beautiful piece and everybody will get to see it as they walk along. And the crucifix, the central figure, of course, is Christ, which is what we're really all about.”