Renovating Saint Thomas Aquinas Chapel, originally constructed in 1930, was one of the first projects to emerge from the master plan. The chapel’s traditional linear floor plan with fixed pews was not conducive to creating community among celebrants and attendees which is fundamental to the teachings of St. Benedict. To break the geometry and orientation of the existing chapel, the space was reconfigured by relocating the altar from the end to the side and changing the seating to a semi-circle arrangement. The traditional steps to the altar were eliminated and pews were replaced with individual chairs. This new altar and seating arrangement is reflected in the stone flooring patterns seen in the marble and granite tiles.
Additionally, a new corridor was constructed along the side of the chapel to help with the overall circulation between the chapel, Benet Hall and Sherwood Hall. This new two-story corridor was designed of sandstone with window openings mirroring the traditional shapes of the existing buildings. These windows fill the interiors of the chapel with natural light bringing out its natural beauty.
Now renovated, Saint Thomas Aquinas Chapel is a wonderful blend of the contemporary and the historic. A sense of community has been created and the congregation feels more connected.