St. Ignatius Chapel

DesignerAlan Dynerman
PrizeHonorable Mention
Project LinkView
Entry Description

This Chapel is a component of the Calcagnini Contemplative Center which serves the retreat programs at Georgetown University, the premier Jesuit school in the United States. At the core of Ignatian teachings and Jesuit traditions are spiritual exercises that are the basis of the ritual of retreats within this order. Georgetown University’s program of retreats is quite varied; some are spiritual, and others non-religious. Historically, the university has rented multiple venues to serve this broad agenda. In 2004, Georgetown purchased land in rural Clarke County, Virginia to build a center to house all its retreats. A key component of the center is the St. Ignatius Chapel. Small and intimate the chapel is intended for groups up to 24. Developing an architecture that imparts a strong and clear spirituality without specific reference to any one religion was at the heart of the design intentions. While Georgetown is a Jesuit university its make up of students and faculty is varied. The chapel needed to serve all religious communities at the school - Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. The design succeeds, avoiding both domesticity and overt religious allusion through its austere palette and simplicity of design. The chapel is conceived as an elemental pavilion; the palette is spare yet rich. The stuccoed masonry walls are perforated with 8” x 8” x 1 1/2” slabs of glass; the floor is poured in place stained concrete. Exposed fir framing and cedar boards complete the interior. The roof is galvanized aluminum, typical for the sheds and barns of the region.