The Relationship of Structure and Material Through the Lens of Three Catholic Chapels

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Virginia Tech


The architectural practice has long held several ideas about how a building should present itself relative to its structure. With modern building technologies and building codes, the structure of a building and the facade can often be very different. Modernist architects theoretically felt very strongly about the importance of material honesty in a buildings, as the 20th Century moved on, many architects moved towards buildings that used materials to create forms and atmospheres that were less dependent on the structural materials and forms of these buildings.

The following thesis explores these ideas about material and structure through three separate examples of buildings with a similar size, site, and program. The project is a theme and variation, with the theme being the building type, and the variation being the philosophy of the relation between structure and material. Researching drawings in Edward R. Ford's book The Details of Modern Architecture, along with specific details of Peter Zumthor's Therme Vals help to inform my personal thought process when it comes to detailing the buildings I have designed.

The designs propose three small chapels on a Catholic college campus in Northeast Washington, DC.



Architecture, Sacred Space, Catholic, Chapel, Material. Structure