Harvard Business School Class of 1959 Chapel

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1992 / United States / Cultural Health & Education Urban Design & Planning

Simple moves of form and orientation combine to create a unique place for contemplation and gathering in a busy campus setting. Skylights and prisms wash glowing patterns of light across the chapel walls throughout the course of the day.

This nondenominational sacred and meditative building juxtaposes two very different spaces. A terraced garden rich in flowering trees offers a place for personal contemplation. Through its glazed, pyramidal roof visitors see the changing seasons of the campus outside. A 100-seat sanctuary contained by rounded, apselike concrete walls, rises to a height of 27 feet. For maximum flexibility this sanctuary room has no dominant axis; it frequently functions as a home for musical performances of varying sizes. Skylights flood the walls with light from above and large-scale prisms fixed in the skylights refract the sun’s full spectrum. The exterior of the building is a cylindrical oxidized copper drum penetrated on the west by the garden space. A tower timepiece marks the entrance to the chapel.

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