Lyle & Grace Prescott Memorial Prayer Chapel, San Diego, CA

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This much-anticipated building replaces Point Loma Nazarene University’s 50-year-old facility, serving as a new, peaceful setting for prayer and spiritual reflection.

The prayer chapel design for PLNU evolved from two inspirations: its serene natural setting, and the spiritual significance of prayerful ambiance. The entry portico plays with scale, compressing the user then expanding their experience upon entry to accentuate the power of the Cross placed mid-space. Upon entry, the space opens to enhance one’s sense of arrival in an 18’ tall prayer volume, expressed in concrete, and glass with wood features where human hands engaged the space. Overhead, a light filigree of mixed woods ascends in the space – a gesture evoking Christ’s spirit, and his crown of thorns. This filigree also acts as a gentle filter for natural daylight. As day turns to night, the lighting design created by Syska Hennessy emulates the influence of daylight through the use of hidden lighting sources. The celling area is punctuated with “stars” set at various heights to provide a soft, natural lighting affect. Though small in footprint, the space offers an experience commensurate with the power of prayer. Three personal prayer niches are arranged radially from the Cross centered in the volume, offering individual privacy while allowing natural daylight to penetrate. Lighting emphasizes the unique design details for visual focus and interest.

From outside, equal importance is placed on the approach to the building as much as on the chapel form itself. The massing of cast-concrete formed abstractly offers a pair of open arms in an inviting embrace. The entry plays with scale, compressing and then opening up to enhance the connection and progression from exterior to interior. The volume opens to enhance the sense of arrival in the relatively tall and linear interior volume of the sanctuary space, expressed in concrete, wood and glass. Lighting from the interior of the chapel plays an important role for the building identity by accenting the lines of the architecture with soft hidden sources. In general, lighting was designed to be hidden and only the affects lighting reflected from the chapel were seen.

2020 PCBC Gold Nugget Grand Award
2020 AIA Honor Award for Divine Details
2020 Orchid for Interior Architecture
2020 Loop Design Award
2020 Honor Award from Faith and Form Magazine
2020 Honorable Mention in Architectural Design / Small Architecture by Architecture Masterprize

1,000 sf

Carrier Johnson + CULTURE

Architectural Lighting Design