A UK steel glazing company has completed one of the most prestigious and nationally significant contracts awarded in recent years in the United States.
Wrightstyle glazing systems were chosen for The Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel, in Quantico, Virginia, built to remember the sacrifice of fallen Marines, a fighting unit with a legendary and illustrious past.
The name of the chapel echoes the Marines’ motto, Semper Fidelis, always faithful, because even when you leave the Corps, you faithfully remain a Marine for the rest of your life. Among its veterans are US Congressmen and Senators, Olympic athletes, captains of industry, and no fewer than 25 astronauts – including John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth.
The $5 million chapel building is simplistic, with timber columns rather than heavy pillars to lighten the architecture. Adding to an interior filled with light, the spaces between those columns are filled with large-span translucent glass, offering views of the trees and countryside that surround the chapel. The concept behind the design was that it should be a ‘transparent chapel in the woods’.
Blending the interior and exterior is deliberate, and intended to echo the design of improvised field chapels still found in today’s combat zones; a reminder of courage and sacrifice dating back over 200 years. In that sense, the building itself is about the fragility of life. Marines may be warriors, but we are also all human.
However, underneath the wooden frames that appear to hold the glass in place is a hidden framework of high-tensile steel. It’s that steel framework, coupled with optically-brilliant laminated glass that allows for the large spans of glazing to be achieved.
“Wrightstyle, has been at the forefront of developing such specialist glazing systems for some years, and we are immensely proud that our US distributor, Hope’s Windows NY, was chosen to make real the design vision behind the Marines project,” said Tim Kempster, Wrightstyle’s managing director.
Images of the chapel are supplied courtesy of Ben Rasmussen Photography.