Global design firm has been commissioned to design an intimate prayer chapel for an elite evangelical university set .
Conceived by Carrier Johnson + CULTURE design principal Gordon R. Carrier, FAIA, the compact, expressive Lyle and Grace Prescott Memorial Prayer Chapel will replace Point Loma Nazarene University's 50-year-old facility. The building is scheduled to open in late 2017, on the university's dramatic campus set on the 300-foot coastal cliffs of San Diego.
The new prayer chapel offers an intimate setting for spiritual reflection and solitary prayer in a prominent campus location, while serving as symbol for the university's commitment to Christian values. The building's elegant use of natural light, its clean lines, and its palette of timeless materials serves to enhance the chapel's purpose in ways both direct and symbolic, kindling an intentional connection to the divine.
The design evolves from two inspirations: a need to express the chapel's role as spiritual anchor for this Christian campus, and a desire to evoke an emotional response from its user.
A pair of vertically expressed cast in place concrete walls on the chapel's north and south faces present an abstract offer of embrace. The corten entry portico creates a clear focus on the Chapel’s purple entry door enhancing the user’s sense of arrival. Entry to the Chapel reveals a delicate filigree canopy of ascending carved wood overhead, gently filtering natural daylight while subtly alluding to Christ's crown of thorns.
Tripartite elements occur throughout the design, as a nod to the Holy Trinity. For example, three windows of floor-to-ceiling glass are arranged at angled recesses opposite three personal prayer niches. The distance from the entrance to the cross at the far end of the sanctuary measures 33 feet, an allusion to the length of Christ’s life on earth.
The Chapel is surrounded by a prayer garden, composed of three individual prayer niches defined by carefully sculpted hedges. Each prayer niche is further enhanced by freestanding stained-glass panels, translating sunlight to color, all of which were reclaimed from the original Chapel.