Sacred Places Summer 2022 - Page 22

St Peter ’ s Episcopal Church Chicago , Illinois
• AltusWorks , Inc .
Both this landmark 1894 church and the adjacent parish house were designated as Chicago Landmarks in 2017 . With funding from the sale of the parish house , the diocese launched a rejuvenation project to integrate all parish house functions into the church building .
Faithful restoration of the exterior was required . The congregation elected to respect the historic interior , while introducing compatible and reversible modifications , presenting an exciting challenge for the design team . Workshops with parishioners gathered perspectives , ideas , and goals related to historic material conservation , liturgical practices , and functional adjacencies . The first phase of a master plan focused on implementing upgrades to expedite a return to the space , while introducing compatible yet reversible modifications and creating a broader framework to guide future work .
The programmatic design elements include converting side aisles to new functions , including reading rooms , a glass-enclosed pastor ’ s office , and a new chapel designed
with components salvaged from the parish house . Fixed seating was reduced to provide a gathering area at the nave ’ s north end . The narthex was repurposed into a smaller entryway , pantry , and bathrooms . Historic decorative chandeliers were restored and re-lamped with LED lights .
“ The repurposed spaces are achieved with light and views , integrated into the volume of the entire church . The core original purpose of the nave is preserved with the sensitive addition of community uses in the side aisles . The reversible glass walls preserve the historical integrity of the architecture .”
Dirk Matthews Photography
Temple Beth Am Sanctuary Los Angeles , California
• Herman Coliver Locus Architecture
Temple Beth Am ’ s windowless sanctuary , designed as a theater with raked seating and a high bema platform from which a prior generation of rabbis presided , felt outmoded and inappropriate for a contemporary congregation . Herman Coliver Locus Architecture undertook the modernizing renovation anchored by a stirring prayer space that challenges its community to reflect , connect and discover meaning .
In the renovation , clergy are positioned at the center amongst the congregation , where everyone is treated equally . Light is brought into the space in three ways : from above , bathing the Torah table at the center ; from behind the ark to make it glow ; and at the periphery , defining layered valences of space . Above the congregation , a wood slat ceiling recalls Abraham ’ s Tent . Light shining through the central skylight , printed with a striped pattern of text , recalls a billowing prayer shawl .
Four portals into the sanctuary are reminiscent of the ark . Crossing these thresholds , congregants engage these
transitional spaces as the Torah scrolls energize the ark . As one passes through them , one traverses from a liminal space to the sanctuary within — from the everyday to the sacred . The architect designed 54 etched glass panels , each a unique expression of the weekly Torah portions .
“ The jury appreciates the integration of light in the space , using it as an element of the architectural experience , not as an afterthought . The selection of the materials is well thought-out and judicious . The before-and-after images are striking .”
Richard Barnes