22-July-2016 In the design of this chapel, located on a high school campus, a free exchange of ideas with a focus on the spiritual qualities of light, space, and procession led to a fundamental reconfiguration of traditional Catholic forms. Positioned as an iconic structure that will greet students on their daily arrival, the chapel is meant to be a welcoming presence when approached from the campus, and a symbol of spiritual aspiration from the nearby highway. Modest in size, with strong yet simple geometry, enduring materials, and light-filled spaces, the Chapel provides a multivalent icon for the campus, and anchors a symbolic progression from dynamic campus life to a more contemplative sacred space. Challenged to position the chapel as the new apex for the high school campus, in its position it becomes an integral piece to the overall master plan of the school while maintaining a visual presence to the general community. The placement and height of the chapel reflects its importance as the signature building for the school. The orientation of the building directs the highest point of the roof towards the student arrival area creating a transition point for students entering the campus; the lowest points of the roof relate to the heights of the adjacent campus buildings. The design is based on geometric principles dating to the beginnings of sacred architecture. Arcs, axes, and alignments have been carefully orchestrated to create a subtle yet inevitable path towards the sanctuary, and from there, towards the altar. Innumerable studies led to the final fan-shaped walls of the sanctuary, which combine a relaxed processional cadence to create a unique acoustical environment. Acoustic analysis revealed a varied sonic environment which we, as well as our client, felt was more appropriate to a sacred space than an “engineered” soundspace which was considered but rejected on the grounds that it would lack a personality. A simple folded plane provides shelter. Braced by a thorny web of steel, the purity of the surface is unbroken save for colorful embossed recesses to capture natural light. Within, portals to the sanctuary spiral out between the curving walls of a semicircular ambulatory, which itself is contained by a collage of translucent glass prisms that paint ever-changing colors on the walls of the sanctuary. Tinted to refer to the seasons of Catholic liturgy, and illuminated by the course of the sun to create an atmosphere of shadows, light, and liturgical meaning fitting for spiritual awakening, their unique design was the result of numerous experimental mock-ups in order to assure us that the colors would be visible from the exterior as well as being able to transmit colored light. A single aperture in the roof provides a passage for the mount upon which the cross is held aloft, and cascades light along its surface into the sanctuary, thus leading the eye of the parishioner upwards and outwards to share the sky with the simple, unaffected cross.
9-Apr-2015 The design for the Jesuit Chapel is intended to create a contemplative journey for each student. This journey begins at the newly created entrance to the campus from Fair Oaks Boulevard. The gentle curves of the drives and pathways take their queue from the existing JHS campus. An extension of the existing campus pathways is created to embrace a plaza and a wooded field which envelop the space for the chapel.
The Chapel is positioned as the new apex for the Jesuit High School campus; in its position it becomes an integral piece to the overall master plan of the school while maintaining a visual presence to the general community. The placement and height of the chapel reflects its importance as the signature building for Jesuit High School. The orientation of the building directs the highest point of the roof towards the student arrival area creating a transition point for students entering the campus; the lowest points of the roof relate to the heights of the adjacent campus buildings.
The simple geometry and limited material palette of the chapel creates subtle entrances and gathering spaces for students. Entrances are defined by a change in materials and lowered ceilings. The student entrance is orientated along the east/west plaza connecting to the existing campus, and is the most prominent entrance as a long wall juts out of plane to gather the students. The transition from the classroom to the chapel happens as students make their way through the plaza and up three short steps to the entrance. The public entrance is at the North West corner directed towards the parking lot. A small raised exterior foyer leading to a pair of large doors marks this entrance for ceremonial occasions.
On the South side of the chapel a collage of transparent, translucent, and colored glass offers a glimpse of the vestibule to passers-by. Facing the campus, this is the most transparent face of the building. The east /west walls, clad in large cement board panels; act as anchors to the folded roof above. Above, a slim tower pierces the roof, to be surmounted by a simple, unaffected Cross, which will be visible from both the Campus and the surrounding area.