The Chapel of St. Ignatius and the Gayle and Tom Benson Jesuit Center will serve the campus community as an environmentally sensitive and sustainable sacred space. It is designed with awareness to the context of the overall site, both in relation to the Gothic-style adjacent buildings and the surrounding environment. The Chapel will have a perceived sense of mass and weightiness that evokes a feeling of permanence as seen in other buildings on campus. The building will be timeless and not mimic the historic architectural style on campus, but it will rather elevate the harmony between the other buildings by having its own distinctly contemporary character.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Estimated Completion 2025
Trey Trahan, Brad McWhirter, Kevin Thomas, Conner Bryan, Robbie Eleazer, James Babin, David Sweere, Ryan Barnette, Charles Weimer, Jarri Hasnain, Nader Wallerich, Sheena Garcia
Spackman Mossop Michaels, Morphy Makofsky Inc, Integral Group, Threshold Acoustics, Cost+Plus, Tillotson Design Associates, The Tobler Company, Eleven Visualisation
AN’s Best of Design Awards, Editor’s Pick in the Unbuilt Education Category, 2021
In the Chapel’s circular shape and connected reflective spaces, visitors receive a sense of wholeness and invitation to community. Internally, the repetition of the circular motif further realizes the value of oneness of a campus community learning together to integrate the pursuits of faith and reason.
Qualitatively, the building is meant to evoke calmness, warmth, and mystery. The exterior expression of the building will implement board-formed cast-in-place concrete that will evoke a quality of the Earth and its organic sensibilities; the scale and texture of the façade will add relief and a softness to the reading of the building.
Ample natural, diffuse daylight will wash the spaces within the new Chapel to provide an inviting and natural environment; a large oculus and skylight will be integrated within the sanctuary space’s ceiling in order to create a connection with the sky and heavens. Large glass entry doors allow for a direct visual connection from the campus into the heart of the sanctuary and vice versa, creating a welcoming addition to the campus community.
Inspired by Genta Ishizuka, an artist based in Kyoto, our studio investigated what it would be like to embed a Genta sculpture in concrete. We asked ourselves, what is Genta without the Genta? Genta’s sculptures are smooth and shiny, but the inverse would be rough and raw. By first filling a mould with balloons of varying size and then pouring concrete on top, the studio created these spatial collision models. The intersecting voids prompted the massing and connectivity in The Chapel of St. Ignatius and the Gayle and Tom Benson Jesuit Center.
We translated what was learned from the artistic models into an architectural concept that had accurate scale and met program needs using 3D modeling tools.