For men of the cloth, architecture has always been one earthly delight they've been encouraged to indulge. In Arizona, DeBartolo Architects continues the tradition in a rather unorthodox manner.
The DeBartolos wanted to keep the desert tradition of incorporating water near the entrance of the house as a sort of welcome mat, but they skipped the faux hacienda fountain found throughout Arizona in favor of twin sheets of four-by-eight-foot steel plates that water pours over. Making the unusual fountain from standard-sized mate¬rials, which will weather naturally over the years, kept the cost down, too. To pave the way for their modernist intentions, DeBartolo Architects gave their clients (a community of Jesuits) copies of Tadao Ando’s The Colours of Light and John Pawson’s Minimum as Christmas gifts. The architects were surprised when the priests started quoting the books back to them, and copies of both still sit out on a coffee table! Here they have done walls of channel glass, an industrial material that comes in long strips shaped in a shallow "U", help preserve the residents’ privacy, while allowing only soft, filtered light inside. In the chapel, the DeBartolos paired and staggered the narrow panels so that only the most opaque light comes through. Obscure views and the most basic shapes and colors from outside create a glowing, ethereal quality indoors. Holy water is held in an elegant blue glass cylinder. The architects also felt that it was important to keep the furniture simple, light, and off the floor. “We really saw this as an opportunity to soften some of the edges of the house,” Jack 3 says. The result is a space filled with both mid-century classics and newer selections in the same vein. Amen!