The Prayer Pavilion of Light was conceived from a simple statement made by the pastor of the regional church. He stated that he always dreamed of a building, dedicated to prayer, sited against the desert preserve, as a ‘light on a hill.’ As architects, we both really admire art, and we have long been influenced and moved by the transformative work of Isamu Noguchi and specifically, his Akari Light Sculptures.
Akari Light Sculptures are considered icons of 1950s modern design. They were originally designed by Noguchi in 1951 and have been handmade for more than 60 years by the original manufacturer in Gifu, Japan. These paper lanterns are a harmonious blend of Japanese handcraft and modernist form. The lamps are created from handmade washi paper and bamboo ribbing, supported by a simple metal frame.
The distinctive paper lanterns have always been in our studio and houses as sculptures of both function and timeless beauty. Looking carefully at the construction of the light sculptures, you see how the washi paper is easily held in place by the bamboo ribbing. In a similar spirit, we used minimal means to support the exterior glass of the building, thus maximizing light and keeping the delicate balance between structure and glass. A custom-designed, laminated frit-glass from Viracon was carefully detailed to ‘hold’ light and shade the inner skin of the chapel.
The square glass volume of the chapel is carefully lifted from the ground, allowing the building to have a delicate connection to its surroundings. Four black-oxide concrete walls extend out into the courtyards and elevate the volume in a similar spirit to how Noguchi floats his brilliant sculptures of light. It is the utter simplicity of Noguchi’s work that makes it timeless and transformative; we have attempted to design a chapel with similar sensitivity.
About the Jack DeBartolos
Jack DeBartolo Jr. and his son, Jack III, founded DeBartolo Architects together in 1996. Their design work, often centered on the well-being of people, has earned numerous awards from the AIA and other entities. The firm works around the world on projects of all types.