Overlooking Portage Bay in North Capitol Hill, this modestly sized Our Lady of Montserrat Chapel at Seattle Preparatory School is located on a very constrained, prominent site between two existing campus buildings. Inspired by ruins of early Jesuit Missions, the design blends the strength and permanence of stone with the warmth and simplicity of wood in modern Pacific Northwest architecture to create an open and inviting space for classes, individual reflection, and mass services.
Traditional hand-crafted materials were used throughout, including a battered sandstone wall, baptismal font, and hand-forged bronze door pull. A board-formed concrete wall – only tall enough to block direct sight lines – is penetrated by a single cross and separates the chapel from the school’s busy central plaza. A small pool separates this wall from an operable glass wall, which can transform the chapel into a seasonal open-air space. Views to the north are controlled by a horizontal wood screen, blocking undesired elements, yet open to the trees beyond. Inside the chapel, a dramatic wood-framed window wall immerses visitors in a forest canopy.
For an in-depth look at the design process for the chapel, view the project monograph.