The Catholic University of America

Jan. 28, 2008

Student Winner of Papal Design Contest to Be Announced Today

Media Invited to Cover Charrette Finale at Catholic University

The winning architectural design for the papal altar, chair and pulpit for Pope Benedict XVI's Mass in Washington, D.C., will be unveiled at 1 p.m. today at The Catholic University of America, D.C., in partnership with the Archdiocese of Washington.

Twenty-one designs are on display as part of a charrette, or competition, at CUA's Edward M. Crough Center for Architectural Studies, where the winners will be announced. The first-place winner will work with architecture faculty to fine-tune the design and actually construct the altar and the other furnishings at the Crough Center.

The altar, pulpit and chair will become part of the sanctuary for the Mass that Pope Benedict XVI will say April 17 at the city's new baseball stadium Nationals Park. Following the Mass, the pontiff will give a major address on Catholic education at CUA.

The top award for the design competition comes with a $1,500 prize. The second-place winner will receive $1,000 and five honorable-mention winners will each receive $500. The proposed designs will be displayed at the Crough Center for about a week.

In their comments, the jurors praised the winning 10-by-3-foot altar for its "delicacy and elegance." The jurors noted that the winner "gave deep thought to the design and how it related to the implementation of the pieces."

Students, working individually or in teams of up to four people, prepared their models and drawings over an intense few days of work between Jan. 18 and Jan. 23. The entries were judged on Jan. 24.

The jurors, who were chosen by the archdiocese, included Monsignor Barry C. Knestout, who holds a degree in architecture and is overseeing planning for the sanctuary at the papal Mass; Jane G. Belford, chancellor of the archdiocese; Bishop Francisco Gonzalez, S.F., auxiliary bishop of Washington; and Monsignor W. Ronald Jameson, rector of the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington.

"I was impressed with the students' creativity," said Monsignor Knestout. "There were some very workable entries."

Architecture Dean Randall Ott said, "It is an incredible opportunity and a great honor for our school and, especially for our students, to be part of the design process for the pope's public Mass, which will be watched by people all over the United States. Our students have poured their hearts and souls into this effort. Their work clearly shows that."

Catholic University's School of Architecture and Planning is the largest in the Washington, D.C., area. The school offers a bachelor of science in architecture, master of architecture and master of architectural studies and its graduate program concentrations include cultural studies/sacred space, design technologies, digital media, real estate development and urban design. For more information see

MEDIA: To cover the event and to arrange for interviews, contact CUA's Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.