All Saints’ Episcopal School, a college preparatory day school for boys, needed a chapel for morning services that conveyed the school’s spiritual mission. The goal was to create a space that would generate excitement, exuberance, and expectation, so that students would feel uplifted as they prepare to embark on their daily studies. Overland Partners responded with a casual, welcoming design intended specifically to appeal to youth.
The design team addressed the project goals by locating the chapel atop a grassy knoll, so it can be seen from within and without the campus, silhouetted against the horizon as the school’s spiritual focal point.
On the exterior, the chapel’s grandeur is embodied by its tall, pointed roof that rests upon four corner blocks that symbolize the four cornerstones of the school, and serve the practical function of housing service equipment and supplies. Flanking the structure are private gardens that run along the entire lengths of the sides of the building, lending a tone of grace and beauty to the setting.
When seated inside the chapel, students experience morning light in all its brilliance, as it filters in through clerestory windows and continuous sheets of glass that form the sides of the building and reveal the gardens. As light interacts with surrounding plants and decorative elements on the exterior, the interior is animated by changing patterns of light and shadow. According to Principal in Charge Tim Blonkvist, “The whole room is lit with reflected light that creates a wonderful energy, a magic for the space for the start of the day, every day of going to school.”