Philip Johnson’s Chapel of St. Basil

  1. A very well-known and wealthy family in the Houston area got together with the University of St. Thomas and decided on hiring Philip Johnson to design new and enlarged campus. Philip Johnson designed several of the halls on the campus, however the Chapel of St. Basil was completed in 1997. This particular work of Philip Johnson caught my attention because of the unusual design of the chapel. In my opinion, is a very strange looking chapel, but still oddly pleasant to look at. It is a more modern take on designing a chapel rather than traditional. Had the cross symbol not been placed on one of the outside walls, I probably would not have guessed this building would be a chapel while passing. It is very different from the rest of the buildings on the campus because it is was made with different materials, white stucco and black granite. It is also said that Philip Johnson designed the Chapel of St. Basil with symbolism in mind. The cube figure represents the body of the church, the sphere on top represents the Christian character of the University, meanwhile a granite plane connects the two further describing the relationship between the University and religion. I would say I am fond of this chapel because I can appreciate when architects who focus on a modern style are able to design a modern looking church or chapel, yet still keep the feel of traditional religion within the atmosphere. There have been times when I have entered chapels/churches that are so modern, I don’t feel warmth or the feeling of connectivity inside the place, if that makes sense. I am really fond of the placement of windows where natural lighting can get in, for example in one of the photos the lighting shines on the crucifixion cross on the wall inside the chapel. I feel as though this structure completed by Philip Johnson was very appropriate for St. Thomas University. 

Chapel_of_St._Basil                   basil

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