The Catholic University of America

March 13, 2007

CUA Hosts Ceremonial Groundbreaking for Opus Hall

Donor, CUA Trustees, D.C. Officials Gather for Ceremony
Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of CUA's Board of Trustees (left) with Neil and Becky Rauenhorst and Father O'Connell.
With a front-end loader and a cluster of CUA flags as a backdrop, Catholic University held a ceremonial groundbreaking March 12 for Opus Hall - an approximately $25 million residential facility that will blend state-of-the-art amenities with a "collegiate Gothic" architectural design.

Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, noted in his remarks at the event, which was held at the construction site on CUA's main campus, that the "groundbreaking for Opus Hall is another chapter in what is an ongoing story of alumni giving back to alma mater so that the lives of future generations of students might be better."

(To view a video of the ceremony, click on To view more photos of the groundbreaking, click on

The seven-story residential facility, which is slated for completion by 2009, will be located in the northeast corner of the CUA campus on the west side of John McCormack Road, just south of Taylor Street.

The design of Opus Hall, which will house about 400 students, includes a striking central tower and two flanking wings. Students who attended the event sported navy blue T-shirts with an image of the tower and the words "Rising to New Heights."

Following his remarks, Father O'Connell introduced Neil J. Rauenhorst, a 1976 graduate of the university's School of Architecture and Planning and a member of CUA's Board of Trustees. Rauenhorst is president of NJR Development Co. LLC, a real estate development company based in Tampa, Fla.

D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (Ward 5) with Father O'Connell.
The name Opus Hall recognizes a $3 million gift for the building project from Rauenhorst, his wife, Becky, and the Opus Group. Opus East, LLC is the contractor for the design and construction of the building.

"When I see the potential for growth and development on this campus to make Catholic University an even greater university … it is truly inspiring," said Rauenhorst. "The opportunities here are tremendous and the future looks very, very good for what I certainly like to refer to as a great growth story for Catholic University."

In addition to Rauenhorst, special guests at the ceremony included Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of CUA's trustees; six other university trustees; Opus East executives as well as several D.C. government officials and local community leaders.

The ceremony held special significance for Harry Thomas Jr., D.C. Council member who represents Ward 5, which includes Brookland, where Catholic University is located.

Thomas, who grew up in the Brookland neighborhood, said "I've watched Catholic University be a good, active partner in our community.

"Catholic University is an important vehicle for the kids in our neighborhood to see higher education at its best," Thomas added. "The university also supports a vital business district on the 12th Street and Michigan Avenue corridors."

Father O'Connell, the Rauenhorsts and CUA students.
Toward the end of the ceremony, Father O'Connell, other CUA administrators and the guests donned hard hats and dug shovels into a sandpit set up for the occasion at the construction site.

Opus Hall, which will be located near other residence halls as well as the Eugene I. Kane Student Health and Fitness Center and the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, marks the first major construction project at CUA since the completion of the Pryzbyla Center in 2003.

The new residence hall will qualify for certification as a "green" (environmentally friendly) facility because of such things as its energy-efficient appliances and heating and cooling systems. The building will have expansive gathering spaces, which will further reinforce the strong sense of community that attracts students to CUA.

MEDIA: For more information about Opus Hall, contact Katie Lee or Chris Harrison in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.


The Catholic University of America, an institution of higher learning in Washington, D.C., is unique as the national university of the Catholic Church in America. Founded in 1887 and chartered by Congress, the university opened as a graduate and research institution. Undergraduate programs were introduced in 1904. Today the private and coeducational campus has approximately 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students from all states and 90 countries enrolled in 12 schools of architecture and planning, arts and sciences, canon law, engineering, law, library and information science, music, nursing, philosophy, social service, theology and religious studies, and Metropolitan College.

Opus East, L.L.C. is headquartered in Rockville, Md., with an office near Philadelphia and another in Stamford, Conn., and is one of five regional companies within The Opus Group. Opus East has developed more than 13 million square feet since starting in 1994 and currently has 5 million square feet in planning or under development. The Opus Group, based in Minneapolis, is a $2.1 billion premier, full-service real estate development company with nearly 55 years experience. Specializing in office, industrial, retail, multifamily, government and institutional development, The Opus Group has completed more than 2,375 projects and 238 million square feet and currently has 35 million square feet in planning or development. Opus employs 2,100 people in 28 offices in the United States and Canada. A community steward since its inception, The Opus Group contributes 10 percent of its pre-tax profits to community organizations. For more information, visit



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Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,