Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Chapel of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University

On Sunday, we visited Valparaiso and Munster, which didn't involve logistically difficult, or even impossible, transits between metro Chicago, Chile and Germany in a single day. Those are also towns in Indiana. Even better for our purpose, they're towns in northwestern Indiana -- so close they're part of the Chicago CMSA, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Valparaiso is in Porter County, Ind., while Munster is in Lake County, Ind.

Which isn't too say that these places seem close, because driving through gooey traffic on forever under-construction highways is usually necessary to get to that end of the metro area, opposite from ours. Sunday meant that traffic was fairly light, however, and so it took us about an hour and a half to arrive at the Chapel of the Resurrection of Valparaiso University.

That's only the chancel; the rest of the chapel, which is a lot of building, trails off to the left in my pic. This blog has a lot better, and a lot more, images of this handsome modernist chapel, inside and outside.

Ann was especially taken with the place, exploring it at some length, and insisting that I take her picture in front of the chancel's stained glass. It was hard to go wrong with a setup like that.

"The chapel was dedicated in 1959, three years after groundbreaking ceremonies..." says the university's web site. "Architects for the building were Charles Stade and Associates of Park Ridge, Ill., although other designers were involved in special elements such as the stained glass windows and the baptistery.

"Inspiration for the design of the building was provided in part by the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem... The chancel of the Chapel of the Resurrection is 98 feet high and is circular in shape with a roof shaped like a nine-point star. The nave is 58 feet high and 193 feet long. There is seating for more than 2,000 people, although capacity varies depending upon the configuration of the movable pews."

I'm always glad to see an example of a modernist structure, and there are some, built with some regard historical context and the people who will be using it. Almost everything about the Chapel of the Resurrection says "Eisenhower era" and yet the design idiom is fully that of a Western church. It's vaulting and full of natural light, and neither lavishly ornate nor austere. The architect made it all work.

There's all kinds of interesting detail around the building. Including the cornerstone -- or rather, the temporal cornerstone, Jesus being the "chief cornerstone."

Not only do you read the year of dedication anno Domini, you're provided the Reformation Year too. Valparaiso U. is a Lutheran school, after all.

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