Chapels in healthcare settings have taken on new life in recent years, transforming into more than places of worship. Many of the spaces, outfitted with movable furniture and walls, are serving multifunctional purposes by hosting community events, weddings, and funerals. They’re also catering to diverse groups by emphasizing an interfaith approach. Here’s a look at three recent projects that reflect these broadening trends.

University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital

A new chapel at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis offers a nondenominational place for patients and families to find peace under difficult circumstances.

The Quinn Seymour Chapel is named after a girl who died in April 2012 of a rare, incurable skin disorder when she was 8 months old. During Quinn’s long stay, her parents, Marc and Mandy Seymour, encountered challenges in seeking an appropriate environment for prayer, so they set a goal of raising $500,000 to build the chapel. More than 500 people donated, while many others contributed their time and energy, and about 130 attendees joined in the opening ceremony in late March 2016. Striving toward inclusivity of faiths, the space contains a mural of the Virgin Mary as well as a window oriented toward Mecca.

Other unique elements include a prayer tree made of impact-resistant steel. Visitors are invited to write their wishes on slips of paper and insert them into holes in the tree, representing leaves. Additionally, an expansive wall mosaic serves as textured and durable artwork that invites children to touch a coral reef, whale, bear, and deer set in fired and glazed clay.

The selected imagery, with a focus on nature, arose from community focus groups identifying the creatures, words, and colors that potential visitors “wanted to see that would give the most hope,” says Tisha Moore, lead chaplain. The elements, she adds, are “childlike without being childish.”

Fiberoptic lighting mimics a sky with stars in a constellation resembling the Milky Way galaxy. Dimmable lights can be programmed to cast a halo or a rainbow of other options, she says.

Positioned adjacent to a windowed corridor, the chapel borrows natural light to illuminate a circular room shaped like a basilica. Its own windows begin 7 feet up the wall and extend in a continuous ribbon around the room. While protecting privacy, the design also “draws your eye up” and “gives you a sense of lift,” says Matthew Carlson, an architectural intern at HGA (Minneapolis), which designed the chapel.

Amita Health Cancer Institute and Outpatient Center

Alluding to nature helps create a calming effect at Amita Health Cancer Institute and Outpatient Center in Hinsdale, Ill., where a new chapel overlooks indigenous trees, shrubbery, grasses, and flowering perennials on a property bordered by a forest preserve on two sides.

Floor-to-ceiling windows, equipped with electronically controlled cloth roller shades, span an entire wall. They allow ample sunlight, while shielding visitors from pedestrian traffic without blocking their views to the outdoors.

Completed in February 2016, the 12-by-20-foot interfaith chapel is located off the main lobby but tucked away for intimacy. A folding partition, consisting of wood-framed panels with glass infill, permits the space to be opened up to the lobby and accommodate larger gatherings, survival celebrations, and memorials. Wood-framed, upholstered chairs coordinate with the lobby’s seating. “Their size makes them easy to move and reconfigure the chapel for different functions,” says Abby Weilmuenster, senior interior design manager at ESa (Nashville, Tenn.), which oversaw the facility’s construction.

Another wall houses a backlit stained glass element, commissioned from a local artist and representing the ideals of faith, hope, and love. It’s an organic, abstract interpretation of natural elements ranging from leaves, trees, and flowers to streams of water and rays of sunlight—all reaching upward in a spiritual way without being specifically liturgical.

Amita Health Cancer Institute and Outpatient Center is a partnership between Adventist Midwest Health and Alexian Brothers Health System. “We don’t see chapels in outpatient facilities as often as we do in hospitals,” Weilmuenster says. “However, this organization wanted to extend its ministry to this facility and provide a place of comfort and respite for patients, their families, and staff.”

UMC New Orleans

Patients and visitors expect chapel spaces to be customized to their needs or, at the very least, appear neutral in terms of religious affiliation, says Janet Dugan, principal at NBBJ (Seattle), the design firm for University Medical Center (UMC) New Orleans, which was completed in August 2015.

Located near the entry pavilion, UMC New Orleans’ chapel includes an 80-square-foot storage area for artifacts of various faiths, which can be retrieved as needed. “That way, they’re not representing a religion when you walk in,” she says. “All of that is behind closed doors.”

Visitors’ eyes are directed toward tall windows with overlapping glass panels, which complement the exterior’s precast concrete. Somewhat angular, the panels allow light “to change ever so slightly as the sun moves across the sky,” Dugan says. The result is “a play on the metaphoric reflection,” while providing a sense of translucency. Surrounding the panels are drapes in a neutrally warm, golden tone.

Four meditation rooms and offices for clergy and staff round out the chapel suite. The private rooms are conducive to seeking solace or counseling while a chapel service is underway, she says.