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Immanuel Chapel

Robert A.M. Stern Architects

Shared By

August King


Virginia Theological Seminary


  • Robert A.M. Stern
  • Grant F. Marani
  • Rosa Maria Colina
  • Charles Toothill
  • Esther Park
  • David Pearson
  • Leticia Wouk-Almino


  • Potomac Energy Group
  • Bowman Consulting
  • General Contractor: Whiting-Turner
  • Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates
  • Landscape Architect: Michael Vergason Landscape Architects
  • Lighting Designer: Fisher Marantz Stone

Project Status


Year Completed

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Project Description

This is one of twelve American projects on the 2016 World Architecture Festival shortlist.


The new Immanuel Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary, replacing the 1881 Immanuel Chapel, lost to fire in October 2010, is conceived not as a look back to the 19th century, nor as a monument to the present, but truly as a chapel for the ages. The new building is plain-spoken, with straightforward red-brick forms and detailing reflecting the restrained Virginia traditions of the campus's earliest buildings, and a simple foursquare spire that counterpoints the rich Italianate tower of nearby Aspinwall Hall. The chapel serves as a place of worship for the Seminary community, for visitors from throughout the worldwide Anglican Commune, and the local congregation; importantly it also serves as a space to teach seminarians to lead worship. A west-facing portico greets visitors from the community; a broad terrace receives those who approach from within the campus to the north. These two complementary yet distinctive entrances invite seminarians and members of the congregation to join together in the sanctuary.

The vaulted ceiling of the main worship space has been shaped to accommodate the varying acoustic needs of the Seminary. Arched clerestory windows bathe the room in diffuse natural light. The space is flexible: a collegiate configuration, with primary seating for 25-30 students to either side of a portable altar, is used for morning and evening services; the standard layout accommodates up to 300 congregants for midday Eucharist and Sunday services. An intimate octagonal room attached to the oratory provides a secluded space for reflection overlooking the nearby ruins of the 1881 chapel, now a garden for quiet contemplation.
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