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Portfolio: Sacred Spaces Rio Roca Chapel Project Rio Roca Chapel, Palo Pinto Client Rio Roca Ranch Architect Maurice Jennings + Walter Jennings Architects Design Team Maurice Jennings, AIA; Walter Jennings, AIA; Lori Yazwinski, AIA; David Pulliam, Assoc. AIA Photographer Maurice Jennings + Walter Jennings Architects

Maurice Jennings, AIA, worked with the late celebrated architect and former Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Fay Jones, FAIA, for 25 years, serving as his only partner from 1986 to 1998. That Jennings faithfully carries on the traditions of organic architecture is evident in his firm’s Rio Roca Chapel, completed in March of 2011. Located in a rural Texas community on a ranch overlooking the Brazos River, this 1,080-sf chapel provides a spiritual retreat and a venue for private events. A walkway of flagstone pads leads towards a tall steel fountain indicating the entrance to the chapel’s forecourt. The earth north of the forecourt is retained by a 10-ft stone wall. The fountain pumps water from the Brazos River through its channels, penetrating the wall. As visitors pass into the forecourt, the view of the surrounding ranches and river valley below is revealed. To minimize the building footprint, an asymmetrical nave plan was developed, placing the aisle at the south side of the chapel. The forecourt’s retaining wall extends into the chapel to form its north wall. The extreme overhangs direct the visitor’s view toward the river valley while providing protection of the chapel interior from the summer sun. of stone, glass, steel, and wood. Its retaining walls and interior columns are made from Lueders limestone mined from a local quarry. The main structure is largely composed of exposed steel bents utilizing wood and steel flitch beams anchored by tension bars with turnbuckles to provide bracing for the copper roof. The lack of superficial cladding minimized material waste and allows the steel structure to be viewed and celebrated. Fir decking adds warmth to the structure and creates a diaphragm between the bents, resisting shear. Pine is used to isolate the large glass lights. Oneinch, insulated, low-e glazing is used in all of the elevations, and skylights at the ridge and down the aisle allow views out and let the natural light in.


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The chapel is constructed

68 Texas Architect

5/6 2013


Texas Architect May/June 2013: Preservation