Site A bluff in Minnesota overlooking a broad valley and 40 acres of restored native prairie.

Program A nondenominational chapel. Solution On private land, but open to the public, the 588-square-foot Prairie Chapel designed by Venice, Calif.–based Hughesumbanhowar Architects is formed from weathered, corrugated metal panels and wood recycled from an old Quonset hut that served the farm for 60 years. Reclaimed trusses are shaped and connected with metal plates to produce new composite-curved frames separated by a continuous slot that moves down from the roof to ground level to become the entrance. The resulting form is pinched, twisted, and sliced, resulting in a volume that mimics weathered boulders found on the site. Jurors praised the economical use of materials—interior walls are clad in slats of flamed, recycled cedar—and the spiritual qualities of the space. “I appreciated the simplicity and … [the way] the interiors are developed in conjunction with the exterior,” said juror Ann Beha. “That makes it a more thorough and integrated project.”

Project Credits

Prairie Chapel, Dennison, Minn.
Architect  Hughesumbanhowar Architects, Venice, Calif.—John Umbanhowar, AIA, Scott Hughes, AIA (principals); Daniel Feig, Kayleigh Carlisle (team members)
Structural Engineer  Richmond Hoffmayer Engineering—Joe Hoffmayer
Size  588 square feet