United Hospital Center—Chapel Replacement Clarksburg, WV
PROJECT CATEGORY Single Space or Feature (completed February 2001)
CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR Bruce C. Carter, CEO, (304) 624-2891
FIRM BSA Design, (317) 819-7878
DESIGN TEAM Kalevi Huotilainen, Principal; Eugene Schuler, Principal; Diana Ricks, Interior Designer
PHOTOGRAPHY Rick Lee
ILLUSTRATION Steve Ruemmele
BED CAPACITY N/A
TOTAL BUILDING AREA (SQ. FT.) 7,560
TOTAL LAND AREA N/A
The Main Entry to the United Hospital Center was showing its 30 years of age, with a utilitarian spirit, multiple functions calling for attention, and an obsolete food-service area. The client wanted to refocus this area by strengthening the entry and wayfinding, and by providing auxiliary spaces that would support United Hospital Center's mission and operation.
Moving the Chapel from a small, low-ceiling space within the complex to a primary location adjacent to information and waiting was a key component of the project. New pastoral offices support this location and increase staff efficiency.
Taking advantage of the existing high volume, the two-story Chapel is defined by a gently arched ceiling that makes the space more human in scale and softly bounces light from the existing south-facing windows inward. To further filter sunlight, a maple screen of varied density was attached to the existing framework, adding a crafted element to the machined frame and suggesting the concept of transformation.
Also taking advantage of the orientation, 12 vertical slots were placed in the east wall and lighted from below. Reminiscent of ledges for votive candles, these openings taper as they ascend and gently reconnect to the main wall. They accentuate the play of light and dark and speak to the individual within a communal environment.
The east wall also has high, relocated stained-glass windows that take advantage of borrowed light from existing clerestories. This feature enhances the verticality of the space and adds to the concept of multiple layers.
The plan is gently asymmetrical. A small space reserved for private devotion is at one corner, and the west wall is slightly inflected to strengthen the natural room acoustics. These features accentuate the room's uniqueness within the hospital. The simplicity of the space allows for nondenominational services, as well as Catholic worship.
The Chapel takes advantage of reclaimed space to create a quiet, healing environment for groups and individuals. By using simple crafted materials and details, it strives to allow natural light to move through its cyclical patterns, connecting those within the hospital to the green hills of West Virginia.