Fostering a spiritual community has always been at the heart of the mission of Saint Mary Mercy hospital and was the impetus for the new construction to provide space and establish a stronger identity for a chapel, a reflection room and a muslim prayer room. The location of the addition was selected to visually “borrow” an important existing cross on the north façade of the hospital. The chapel’s apertures match orientations with programmatic opportunities including a high, east window to provide early morning light for the daily 6am mass, a southern opening that holds a special installation of dichroic glass that bounces spectral colors into the space, and a western row of windows that establish a relationship with a future phase healing garden. The three primary liturgical elements (tabernacle, altar and ambo) complement the geometries of the conical brick corner and are carved from through solid pieces of dolomitic limestone through the use of digital fabrication robotic carving.
The geometry of the conical corner of the chapel highlights the position of the tabernacle, the most important liturgical element within the chapel. The development of the ceiling geometry establishes a diagonal visual connection with the tabernacle in contrast to the processional axis of the altar. On the exterior, this corner is accentuated by the patterning of the brick. The brick coursing rotates masonry in a clockwise orientation from a running bond pattern to a “cross hatch” pattern and back again after rounding the corner. Sequential coursing follows the same logic with a counter-clockwise rotation thereby establishing a “woven” pattern. Ironspot was selected for the brick color to distinguish the chapel from the existing hospital context and take advantage of the material’s reflective qualities which appear dynamic as light reflects off of the curving and rotating facade.
This project was awarded the 2019 AIA Michigan Design Honor Award, the 2019 Society of American Registered Architects, NY Council, Design Award (National Award), and the 2019 Masonry Institute of Michigan, Deign Excellence in Masonry Award.