location: Greenwich Village, NY
client: Tenth Church of Christ, Scientist
size: 8,000 s.f.
date: completed 2010
contact: hMa hanrahanMeyers architects
Infinity Chapel for Tenth Church of Christ, Scientist is a 4,000 square foot cubic sanctuary where squares, golden section rectangles, and spheres surround worshippers with sacred geometries. The Chapel’s south, north and west walls curve inward, shaping the Chapel, and suggesting the presence of a sphere. The curved west wall is punctured by a large square opening to bring light to the sanctuary. The congregation looks west toward the curved wall and the outdoor Garden Sanctuary, open to the congregation through floor to ceiling glass openings behind the stage. The Chapel brings together nature, geometry and light to make a sacred space.
Visitors enter on MacDougal Street through a glass façade into the Christian Science Reading Room. The path east to west is calibrated by five light monitors that mark the space, from the Reading Room to the Chapel stage. Three monitors in the Reading Room appear as white objects floating in the space, and project light to the ceiling and the Sunday School below. A fourth monitor marks the rear edge of the Chapel seating; a fifth sits on the Chapel stage. Monitors appear as skylights in the Sunday School below and connect the lower level to the Chapel and Reading Room above.
Nature and light are presented within minimalist white glass and concrete spaces through large pieces of old-growth Ash: the Reading Room storefront window areas; the Librarian’s Desk; two Benches for members who take the weekly collections; and the Chapel podium. Chapel benches are oak, and parts of the Reading Room casework are also oak. Wood objects, mixed with light monitors that frame light, distribute nature and light through the space.
The Christian Science Reading Room is an open, relaxed space for study and conversation. Below the ground level the Sunday School is marked by a procession of light in the form of squares, lines, and golden section rectangles from the light monitors above, and doubles as a public meeting area for Church members.