Hodgetts + Fung

Hodgetts + Fung

Culver City, CA


Jesuit High School Chapel of the North American Martyr

Designed as an iconic structure that will greet students on their daily arrival, the Chapel of the North American Martyrs is meant to be a welcoming presence when approached from the main campus. The strong yet simple geometry, enduring materials, and soaring ceilings have been chosen to provide a spiritual anchor for the Jesuit High School Campus, and to provide a symbolic  progression from dynamic campus life to a more contemplative sacred space.

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, thus leading the eye of the parishioner upwards and outwards to share the sky with the simple, unaffected cross.

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.

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. Yet, in recognition of our multicultural society, and the treasure of individuality, the plan gathers, rather than focuses the paths of those who come to worship, encouraging a more 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.

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Status: Built
Location: Carmichael, CA, US
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti / Bruce Gibbons

Mechanical Engineer: Capital Engineers Consulting, Inc.

Electrical Engineer: CRO Engineering Group, Inc.

Civil Engineer: Warren Consulting Engineers, Inc.

Landscape: Yamasaki Landscape Architects

General contractor: Swinerton Builders

Photographer: Joe Fletcher

Project Team: Darin Vieira (Lead), Amber Langlois, Anina Weber-Bach, Mariam Mojdehi, Edwin Fang, Ashley Merchant