Lee University Chapel – Cleveland, TN
Despite its religious heritage, Lee University had never had a facility specifically designed as a house of worship and wanted a striking, beautiful, traditional Chapel – a campus focal point. Since the Chapel serves a unique function in the life of the university, officials wanted a unique architectural look. Departing from the familiar Greek revival style of red brick, portico porches, and Greek columns of most campus structures, elements from the Romanesque, Early Christian and Neo-gothic periods in church architecture were incorporated. Texas Limestone on the outer building lends a distinctive look to the Chapel. The 72-foot spire soars majestically over the campus, topped by a 48-foot copper steeple.
The exterior makes a statement, producing an iconic structure for the university, yet the interior feels warm, inviting and intimate. The dramatic, wood vaulted ceiling in the nave and transept is inspiring and acoustically designed to accommodate the choir and large donated pipe organ. The chapel accommodates 300 occupants in a traditional cruciform layout with a mezzanine at the end of the nave and incorporates state-of-the-art technology including cameras, speakers and special lighting without detriment to traditional design elements. Below the choir and altar, a hidden stairway allows access to the basement which houses auxiliary functions, dressing rooms and staging function. An assembly space with sound ready stage and immediately adjacent catering kitchen accommodate events. Taking advantage of natural site grading, the east façade opens onto a fully landscaped courtyard, providing a natural flow between interior and exterior spaces.