The Chapel & Center is uniquely situated in the middle of the Wright State University Campus on five heavily wooded acres owned by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Although staffed by the Catholic Campus Ministry, the Center is meant to serve students regardless of religious affiliation.
About the project
Dayton, Ohio Wright State University and the Catholic Diocese of Cincinnati spent six years negotiating a deal to sell all but two acres of the Diocese’s land to the University. The money from the sale helped fund the Chapel’s construction, located on the remaining land adjacent to campus. The Chapel is sited to take advantage of both the seclusion of the wooded property, and the frontage along an existing pedestrian path between nearby student housing and campus center.
Purposefully placed metal panels and redwood cladding create contemporary, clean forms that speak to the environment. The entry tower anchors the building, serving as a beacon amongst the grounds and directing your eye upward to the mature trees. Perched at the edge of the woods, the worship space is marked with full-height windows. Instead of a traditional cross-cut view of the mature trees, the fenestration in the main worship space offers16-foot views of the surrounding forest.
Simple in concept, the Chapel is thoughtfully organized. The natural theme extends inside, with a wood partition defining the altar. Minimal ornamentation keeps the atmosphere neutral, and allows the spirit of nature to flood the space. A movable font fosters flexibility for the college-aged congregation with few baptisms. A circular Sacrarium, essentially a French drain, directs baptismal water back to sacred ground. In addition, the sloped roof provides acoustical balance for the concrete floor.
While owned by the Catholic Diocese, the space is intended for students of all faiths.