(Provided by architecture firm, Robert Ehmet Hayes & Associates)
As a campus focal point and a physical embodiment of the faith- based spiritual mission for Thomas More College, the Chapel design emphasizes both the vertical connection to God and the horizontal connection to the campus and community. Based upon radiating circles, like ripples in a pond, the design centers on the altar, representing Christ's sacrifice and marking the spiritual heart of the campus. The radiating circles imply the impact of Christ outward into the community through the Thomas More students. The ceiling soars to a high point over the altar with radiating seating focusing toward the altar. The Chapel was oriented for maximum north light to allow worshipers to be able to have a visual connection with the sky and surrounding landscape. At the entrance to the Chapel, a bell tower faces the open lawn and calls upon the tradition of both churches and college campuses to mark an important place with the sound of bells, held high to transmit across the campus. At the peak of the bell tower, a 15-foot tall cross highlights the tower and identifies the Chapel as a place of worship. The Chapel's materials were chosen for warmth and longevity, using exposed brick and wood to relate to the Thomas More campus. With seating for 310, the Chapel provides an intimate setting for individual prayer and reflection, community worship, as well as weddings. The heating & cooling system incorporates an energy efficient geothermal system. An exterior amphitheater provides an informal gathering place for students and staff. This Chapel will be the place to remember and celebrate the mission and ministry of Thomas More College.
The architectural firm of Robert Ehmet Hayes & Associates was founded in 1961 by Robert Ehmet Hayes. Since Robert's death in 2009, his sons, Ehmet and Joseph Hayes, have headed the firm which includes Michael Bishop and Ryan Ficke, associate architects, and Carol Hayes who has managed the administrative aspects of the firm since 1964. Joseph is the lead architect on the chapel design, which was actually conceived by Joseph and his father in 2000. Among some of the most recent projects completed by the firm are St. Charles Personal Care Center, St. Barbara Church, award-winning Thornwilde Elementary and phased construction at both Beechwood Schools and Woodfill Elementary.
"Designing and administering construction of the chapel was a highlight for the firm, having been given the opportunity to create an experience that allows people to be inspired and grow, and to design a masonry building that will age gracefully and stand the test of time," Joseph said.