BSA Chapel

This interdenominational chapel is remotely sited on a wooded bluff overlooking a creek. The project consists of a canopied and partially enclosed chapel with a tower of light for reflection, meditation, or private conference. In addition to the interior chapel seating designed for use in either direction, fixed exterior seating is included for less intimate gatherings or performance.

Inspiration for the design of the chapel originated from an investigation of the rural vernacular utilitarian structures of the barn and silo--a typology that was transformed as other sacred connotations and site conditions were considered. The intent was to create a sacred destination with a sense of intimacy, without any particular religious iconography.

The “tower of reflection” marks a point of entry. The translucent laminated glass panels in the tower act like tapestries, or curtains, and signify the private solitude of the space while allowing for natural light to wash the interior of the curve. The chapel space is structured and oriented such that it frames the site like a camera lens. On the north creek side, the structural frame focuses on a backdrop of silver beech trees. Opposite, the roof lifts upward toward the site and exterior seating for larger congregations or gatherings.

In response to the challenge of the budget, the project developed its focus as one in which the texture, scale and sense of materiality was developed through articulation of the exposed structure and detail of the cladding. For example, the pattern of the cedar cladding creates a rich surface in which joints, fasteners, and natural wood variation lend detail and scale, evoking a quilted fabric texture.

"This chapel is rich in its simplicity and how it is harmoniously integrated into its natural setting. The seating helps to unify the inside with the outside. There is great harmony between the shapes, geometry, and the off-set cross. There is a simple palette of materials. The horizontal siding is very sensitive, and the varied textures are unified by the color. A Pennsylvanian Ronchamp."

Brandt + Ginder – Architect-of-Record
Photography – Catherine Tighe