Lake Hills Chapel

Laguna Hills, California

The 200-person 6500 SF chapel is a memorial from a husband to his late wife. The donor wanted a building with familiar "traditional" chapel elements: cross/steeple, cruciform plan, defined procession, and materials that convey permanence. Those “Traditional“ elements were reinterpreted by the design team to reflect the site’s contemporary time and place in Southern California. The "main" axis is the connection between church and congregation, while the "transverse" axis connects the "rose" garden and the lake. The context visually completes the chapel through apertures between building elements. The entry sequence progresses through the rose garden across the “dry river” along side a stream and turns an axis to unfold a traditional plan in a non-traditional context.

The chapel was designed for both vocal and instructional musical presentations. The building’s form was shaped in concert with an acoustician to “tune” the space negating the need to electronically amplify sound. The materials palette is simple and durable: limestone walls, cherry wood paneling and furniture, plaster and lead-coated copper roofing. The rough limestone is used in a horizontal stack pattern on the east and west walls that define the enclosure. The same limestone is used for the floor material but with a honed finish. The roof is held away from the stone walls to allow light to flood the space accenting the stone wall which also celebrates the construction of the Chapel’s wall and roof connections.

The original design narrative from 1995 award submittal captures the spirit of the 25-year award,

“Traditional forms are assembled in a contemporary manner, creating an architecture statement that reflects the church's mission: to be simple, strong, elegant and timeless”.

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