St. Bartholomew’s Chapel | Non-Residential
Valley Center, CA

Replacing a historical chapel  on an Indian reservation that was destroyed in a wild fire was about a new design that reverently acknowledged the past while looking to the future.

Located in a dramatic valley on the Rincon Indian Reservation in San Diego’s back country, the tiny historic chapel was destroyed by wild fires that ravaged the area in October of 2007. Only the original adobe bell tower that dated back to the late 1800s survived. Though devastating, the fire presented a “blank slate” opportunity to double the seating capacity of the chapel while adding a fellowship hall, which was designed to wrap around and create a third space-an outdoor prayer garden. The congregation wanted the new design to reverently acknowledge the past, while looking to the future for the next generations; emulating a traditional style was not desired. Therefore, the new design was to respectfully integrate Native American culture, ideas of the Creator, the natural environment, sustainability, and ancestry with Catholic/Christian beliefs of the Trinity, the Resurrection, Christ’s protection, as well as liturgical iconography. Fire resistance was also greatly desired. The palette of materials were derived from the site, (as were the original chapel’s); rammed earth, locally harvested wood, boulders, and abundant river rock. The Chapel generates 50% of its electrical needs.