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The chapel will be the only building in the state designed by the Argentinian-American architect. Pelli agreed to take a discounted fee to complete the project after Dr Francis told him, “Look, we can’t afford what China and Dubai and all the rest [of your clients] pay.” His spokesman, Dave Coon, said the 84-year-old architect felt he “had to accept this commission because it was an opportu- nity to create a place on a university campus that will be uniquely memorable”. “Most important to him is the opportunity to provide young men and women, already at a critical point in their lives, with a means to see beyond themselves and to provide a place where they may ask for help from where all powers come,” added Coon. The 430-seat chapel has a contemporary design. In keeping with Xavier’s other major buildings, the chapel exterior and the interior of the sanctuary will be lined with cream- coloured limestone, quarried from Portugal. One of the building’s most striking features will be the way in which daylight is captured by skylights circling the roof and diffused through an interior screen to illuminate the octagonal-shaped sanctuary. At night, a lighting system will illuminate the interior canopy. A separate meditation day chapel, which can seat 40 people, will also include a bell tower. At Pelli’s request, the Xavier authorities

have commissioned Laurel Porcari, a New Orleans-based architectural glass artist,to design 14 windows for the Stations of the Cross and another 31 windows, which will have a pattern fused between two panes of glass. The use of coloured glass is especially important to the architect. Dr Francis describes the effect of walking into a room in another Pelli building and being struck by the effect of light streaming through the windows. “[Pelli] told me to stand in the centre and talk, and when I walked in I could actually feel myself think when I spoke,” he said.


avier’s staff and students are excited as they watch their remarkable chapel begin to take shape. This week Kenneth St Charles, vice- president for institutional advancement at the university, said that everything is on schedule for next year’s opening. “Really, the beauty is in the simplicity,” he added. “That’s the signature of Pelli’s buildings – beauty and simplicity.” Dr Francis is continuing to solicit pledges and donations to reach the fund-raising target and is convinced the effort will be worthwhile. “I watch these young people all the time, and they’re really into volunteering and wanting to do good,” he said. “This is something that is going to be great for them. They’ll be able to sit down in the meditation chapel and reflect. We think it’s going to have a great impact on young people to reconnect in many ways.”

■Peter Finney Jr is executive editor of The Clarion Herald, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

 

   

      

 

 

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you”,

says the Lord. “Plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

The 9th of July marks a momentous occasion – the birth of South Sudan as an independent nation.

After decades of conflict, it is a time of hope in looking to a peaceful and prosperous future for both North and South Sudan.

Let’s stand together in hope with the people of Sudan at this time and pray for lasting peace. Prayers, pictures, stories and actions:

   

2 July 2011 | THE TABLET | 15

R34592 Registered Charity No. 285776

Photography: David Snyder /CRS

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