St. Katharine Drexel Chapel, Xavier University of Louisiana+ expand detail
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
12,000 square feet / 1,000 square meters
Named for the university’s founder,The St. Katharine Drexel Chapel will provide a new central place of worship on the Xavier campus. The chapel is contemporary in design, yet the sanctuary’s octagonal plan is rooted in traditional religious structures. Raised four feet above grade, the building is reached by a 300-meter (80-foot) sloping processional approach. This path is aligned with the original campus quadrangle and the site from which Pope John Paul II spoke in 1987.
With a limestone base crowned by a copper roof, the building connects to the university’s tradition of building materials and color. The main sanctuary is a 65-foot-tall (20-meter) volume with seating for up to 430 worshippers. A ring of skylights will allow natural light to be diffused through a screen and illuminate the sanctuary.
A smaller day chapel will be used for daily Mass and for individual reflection. The two worship spaces will be served by common liturgical areas including a narthex, work and vesting sacristies, and a reconciliation room.
Incorporating sustainable strategies related to lighting, landscaping, and materials, the building is being designed to attain LEED certification.