St. Pius Chapel and Prayer Garden

Architect: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Category Two: Up to $1,500,000 in construction cost

A quiet refuge and intimate sanctuary for sacred reflection, this new adoration chapel on an existing church campus is a powerful sculptural addition to the landscape.

Designed as a quiet refuge and intimate sanctuary for sacred reflection and contemplation, this new adoration chapel on a mid-century Catholic Church campus is a powerful addition to the landscape.

"In a sliver of available space, the dexterous form of the chapel skillfully manages to complement the monumental main sanctuary while creating a respite with contemporary sensibilities." ~ Jury comment

Early discussions with the church parishioners made clear their desire that the design of this new structure should complement the character of the adjacent church (circa 1966). Its modern aesthetic reflected the dramatic change in the Roman Catholic Church as a result of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), which addressed relations between the Church and the modern world. The octagonal plan with the altar at the center allows a unified space within the church as opposed to the traditional axial arrangement of churches stressing hierarchy.

The configuration of the floor plan allows visitors to enter into a small vestibule separated from the chapel by a slatted wood screen wall that affords visual privacy to those occupying the space. Interior design features are intentionally minimal. The space’s power and purpose is enhanced by its very simplicity; the sculpting of the building massing extends to the interiors, and is visually understood as a carved, light-filled volume which constantly changes during the course of the day. Even the Christian cross, adjacent to the tabernacle, is expressed through the careful carving and folding of white planes accentuated by grazing light.

"Meticulously detailed but not overwrought, the sequencing and interior volumes recall what we admire about our sacred spaces." ~ Jury comment

Since the space is used as a perpetual adoration chapel, all visual focus is placed on the tabernacle and monstrance containing the Holy Eucharist, allowing occupants the opportunity to worship in quiet solitude.

Additional information

MEP Engineer: Mazzetti Inc.

Structural/Civil Engineer: Robert A. Bouchon, Consulting Engineer, LLC

Geotechnical Engineer: Gillen Engineering, LLC


2016 Small Projects Awards Jury

Marika Snider, AIA (Chair), Snider Architecture, Beavercreek, Ohio

Will Bruder, FAIA, Will Bruder Architects, Phoenix

Mira Locher, FAIA, Kajika Architecture PLLC, Salt Lake City

Elizabeth Ranieri, FAIA, Kuth Ranieri, San Francisco

Jonathan Tate, Office Jonathan Tate, New Orleans

Image credits

St. Pius Chapel 1

Will Crocker

St. Pius Chapel 2

Will Crocker

St. Pius Chapel 3