Prayer Chapel
by Gensler


A wave-like wooden ceiling undulates above the heads of students at this chapel by architects Gensler in the basement of a Los Angeles university.

Prayer Chapel by Gensler

Despite being located within the rectangular confines of an old classroom, the chapel has curved walls and not a single corner.

Prayer Chapel by Gensler

Architect David Herjeczki explains how he was inspired by the thick black outlines of poché-style plans. "The design is conceived as a 'heavy' space deliberately set apart from, but fully formed within, the host classroom building," he said.

Prayer Chapel by Gensler

Recycled strips of timber were mixed with wood harvested from olive trees around the campus to create the uneven finish of the chapel's timber ceiling.

Prayer Chapel by Gensler

"The choice of such recycled wood is consistent with the poor and primitive sensibility of the chapel, but materially it provides a rich contrast to the fundamental nature of the space," said Herjeczki.

Prayer Chapel by Gensler

A narrow skylight creates a band of light across the ceiling at one end and illuminated glass blocks create brightly coloured windows in the curved interior walls, but offer no views to the rooms beyond.

Prayer Chapel by Gensler

Other chapels we've featured include one in a school for friars in Portugal and one constructed by students in Istanbul.

Prayer Chapel by Gensler

3D diagrams - click above for larger image

See more stories about chapels »

Prayer Chapel by Gensler

Building plan - click above for larger image and key

Photography is by Ryan Gobuty, Gensler.

Prayer Chapel by Gensler

Floor plan and alternative layout

Project details:
Client: Biola University, La Mirada, CA USA
Design: David Herjeczki, Gensler Los Angeles

Prayer Chapel by Gensler

Conceptual section

  • Yaniv Peer

    Wonderful design… well done! It’s so refreshing to see good design. Better hope Gove doesn’t start prescribing the way in which churches can be built!

    • P.Whe

      Agreed, nice design. Shame about the carpet.

  • Except for the carpet, a really well accomplished project.

  • Critic

    How to mix together windows from Ronchamps with wave from Utzon´s Bagsværd? check above…

  • Dennis D

    Awesome space. Hardly run of the mill carpet. Makes time on your knees more comfy.

  • cpockran

    An essense of Jørn Utzon…

  • Guest

    Oh look, Aalto’s Viipuri Library, 85 years late.

  • Richie

    One problem. It was never a classroom… Other than that, it’s a great prayer chapel!