Seaman’s Church Institute

Philadelphia, PA
Spring 2009

The Seamen's Church Institute is located in an existing warehouse building located just north of Old City Philadelphia. The new chapel, designed by Stokes Architecture serves as both a worship space for the merchant marines, and a performance space for the community. The plan of the chapel takes its inspiration from the traditional Greek cross plan. This arrangement allows the podium to be thrust out into the congregation, allowing a greater degree of contact between the celebrant and the worshipers. Chairs are at a 45° angle, allowing worshipers to see each other, and to get closer to the altar. The formal design of the worship space takes inspiration from the ships the seamen are familiar with. Behind the altar a large image of a ship’s side, in four sections, forms a cross. The framing for the wood slats is inspired by the curved wood ribs of a ship, and the wood ceiling is shaped like the hold of a wooden ship, and extends down the walls to frosted glass, creating a connection between the secular and sacred spaces.