Seeking a small, durable, yet striking structure, developer Tom Moyer requested a non-denominational public building for thought and meditation, in honor of his late wife. The chapel occupies a prominent 130-ft.-high basalt cliff on a 58-acre suburban Catholic sanctuary, providing panoramic views that extend as far as Vancouver, WA and the Columbia Gorge. Despite minimal soil depth, large evergreen trees enclose the site and form an integral part of the path to the building.
Following a winding trail through a wooded area with large rock formations, the path to the chapel offers intermittent glimpses of the chapel before terminating in a small elevated plaza that orients the visitor toward the building. The building’s facial symmetry is broken only by careful landscape placement, while an axial pathway with an inlay of natural stone enhances the sense of order. A water feature on each side with three shallow weirs marks the procession to the entry. While the water plane drops as the visitor moves to the entry, the walkway remains level as if separating the temporal world from the spiritual.
Essentially a quarter-circle in plan and truncated at the apex to form an entrance, the wall at the ground plane has been “pinched,” while the upper planes trace the right angle and—in the image of a holy man—gesture skyward. The soffits between the walls are infilled with glass to capture reflections from the pools and project them onto interior surfaces. With the exception of the glass entry doors, the elevation presents a solid form of polished granite walls and a stainless steel roof. Entering the chapel, the visitor experiences a dramatic view to the north as a bent glass wall rises 28-ft., interrupted only by a mother and child sculpture placed on axis with the entry.
Year: 1992 Location: Portland, OR