The Catholic University of America

Aug. 18, 2011

Architecture Dean Receives UNBUILT Design Award

  Architecture Dean Randall Ott's Salt Chapel


This summer, Randall Ott, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, received an UNBUILT Award from the Washington, D.C., chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). His Salt Chapel project was chosen from among more than 100 submissions by local architects, landscape architects, planners, interior designers, and students.

Ott’s Salt Chapel, which is designed to be placed at the edge of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, celebrates the endlessly shifting boundary of the lake. The Salt Chapel rises up on 36 landing-gear-like wheels that enable the chapel to prowl the shoreline of the lake.

“Sacred architecture is a crucial building task in our society, one that has not received in recent decades the attention it deserves,” Ott says. “It is very meaningful to me to be able to participate in bringing forward challenging, theoretical projects of a sacred character for consideration in award programs, and I am deeply moved to have had this chapel project recognized by the AIA DC chapter.”

The nave of the chapel hovers always over the threshold between wet and dry, no matter how far it moves. The Salt Chapel’s interior draws inspiration from the lake, featuring a matrix of glass shelves liberally stacked with crystals of Halite — everyday rock salt.

“The jury found this an adventurous exploration of form and context. …This [is] a very provocative project,” the jury stated. They recognized Ott with an UNBUILT “award of honor in the purely poetic.” For more details on Ott’s design, visit

CUA’s School of Architecture and Planning has the largest architecture program in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. It will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a three-day symposium on “transcending architecture” this October. For more information, visit

MEDIA: To schedule an interview or request photos, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600 or


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