Saint Mary’s Student Chapel
Mechanical/Plumbing/Fire Protection: Costa Engineering
Electrical: O’Mahoney & Myer
Structural: Mar Structural
Landscape: Andrea Cochran Landscape
Acoustics/AV: Charles M. Salter Associates
Saint Mary’s College High School is an accredited co-educational college preparatory high school operated by the De LaSalle Christian Brothers, which have operated schools on the same site since 1903. For the past 35 years, the school has been without a dedicated chapel and has utilized classrooms and the gymnasium/auditorium for the religious functions that are integral to Saint Mary’s mission.
The new Chapel building is located at the main entrance of the school as a focal point of the campus — symbolizing its faith life, embodying its values and beliefs, and exhibiting the mission of the school. The 4,400 square foot building seats 200 people within a sacred space for communal worship and private prayer. The Chapel is wonderfully sited among mature trees on a gentle hillside across from Cordornices Creek. The site includes an entry courtyard, a meditative garden, and a reflecting pool and grotto — a shrine devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The design of the Chapel utilizes simple forms and materials that distinguish it from the cluster of buildings that make up the campus built over the last 70 years. The one-story structure is housed under a flat roof and is punctuated by a vertical element that slopes from 20 feet to 38 feet tall on the eastern elevation; a narrow window within this form allows morning light to imbue the sacred space of the sanctuary. Windows to the south and west visually connect the chapel to the existing mature trees and adjoining meditative garden to give the relatively compact building a greater sense of connection with its surroundings.The simple building palette of natural concrete lends the chapel a sense of permanence and serves as a backdrop to the play of light and shadow from the surrounding landscaping. The architecturally exposed cast in place concrete is carefully articulated and composed to reinforce the rhythm of the aluminum curtain wall window system.