IKM Inc

UPMC Presbyterian University Hospital Interfaith Chapel


Location: Pittsburgh,  PA
Completion: 2013
Project Area: 600 ft2
Services: Architecture


The simple nature of these questions does not reveal the challenge in front of the design team to present a space that would respond to the intentions of the mission or the pragmatic needs of the vision. Our goal was to disconnect the visitor from the hospital world while being immediately adjacent to it.

Shifting the axis of the room onto the diagonal and introducing curving elements behind and above the alter area gave the space its own order and helped to overcome the regular nature of the previous spaces. These moves were reinforced by obscuring the shape of the existing windows, thus allowing for natural light without the figure of the existing hospital windows showing through. This was critical in maintaining the perception of separation from the hospital.
A stone passage was developed as a threshold for entrance. This massive entrance helped with the feeling of leaving the hospital behind when you passed into the chapel. It also provided a striking visual cue for entrance that was substantially different from the other visual elements normally encountered in a hospital corridor.

Additional embellishments of the chapel included the use of commissioned art glass at the corridor. The goal of this glass installation was to lend the buoyancy of color and light normally seen in this kind of space without the specific traditional imprint of religious tradition. The use of cast glass was also incorporated to give reference to water, a theme shared across many religious traditions and a calming element useful in reflection and meditation