The Chapel of the North American Martyrs is positioned as the new apex for the Jesuit High School campus; in its position it becomes an integral piece to the overall master plan of the school while maintaining a visual presence to the general community.
A simple folded plane provides shelter. Braced by a tangled web of steel that has been likened to a crown of thorns, the purity of the surface is unbroken save for colorful embossed recesses to capture natural light. A single aperture in the roof provides a passage for the mount upon which the cross is held aloft, and cascades light along its surface into the sanctuary. This leads the eye of the parishioner upwards and outwards to share the sky with the simple, unaffected cross.
The design is based on geometric principles which date to the beginnings of sacred architecture. Arcs, axes, and alignments have been carefully orchestrated to create a subtle yet inevitable path towards the sanctuary, and from there, towards the altar.
The plan gathers rather than focuses the paths of those who come to worship, encouraging an evolving rather than prescribed participation in the Mass. Seating up to 350 people, the sanctuary will be large enough for school liturgical services while a smaller devotional shrine to the Lady Mary will allow for individual prayer, contemplation and small group devotion.
Portals to the sanctuary flow between curving walls from a semicircular ambulatory which itself is contained by a collage of translucent glass prisms. Colored to refer to the seasons of Catholic liturgy, and illuminated by the course of the sun, the prisms paint an ever-changing pattern on the walls of the sanctuary.