Chapels That Defy Convention
One of Randall Ott’s theoretical chapels sits on a row of sturdy wheels that are coated with salt. The wheels allow Ott’s Salt Chapel to move with the dilating shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah as it ebbs and rises during drought and rainy season. Ott is the dean of CUA’s School of Architecture and Planning and the chapel, which actually exists only in highly detailed computer-aided drawings, is a study in contrasts. As Ott notes, the chapel’s “aggressive, highly technical construct doesn’t have an easy empathy with the landscape.” But, at the same time, the chapel’s proximity to the lake would give visitors the opportunity to contemplate the landscape’s potential as sacred space and to realize humanity’s relatively small place in the world.
Ott also designed two other theoretical chapels: the Pine Chapel, which would sit at the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and the Wind Chapel at a Joshua Tree National Park ridge overlooking Palm Springs, Calif. The Wind Chapel would be, in effect, its own pipe organ; huge aluminum pipes of different lengths would be suspended from it and play musically in the breeze.
Published in an academic journal, the projects have earned the dean two faculty design awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Ott, whose students assist him with the projects, hopes to complete his chapel series with the Fire Chapel, a round structure that would enclose a geyser in Yellowstone National Park.
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