Express traditional cathedral motifs with exposed structural steel
Ave Maria University’s 1,100-seat Oratory resembles a traditional cathedral, rendered in classic motifs but expressed in a modern palette of glass, steel and stone. The non-orthogonal connections, many with multiple curved members joined at widely varying and acute angles, required a highly integrated engineering and architectural process to facilitate resolution of aesthetic and construction concerns.
Steel buttresses are expressed from the interior to the exterior as free-standing exposed steel frames penetrate the outer skin, hinting at the lattice steel bents which form the basis of the overall structure. In this building, the structure is the architecture and is the most prominent foreground element. The latticed steel bents take structural steel and infuse it with the delicacy of gothic tracery, intertwining the members to form the great steel frames from which the building form arises. Key intersections of steel members are back-lit with punched openings to the exterior, thus the steel connection becomes a diffuser of natural light bounced across the interior spaces.
The project won the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), IDEAS2, Merit Award in 2008.
Publication: Faith and Form, 2010