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Historic Board Meeting Moves Virginia Seminary Chapel Plans Forward


Media Contact: Susan Shillinglaw
Tel: 703-461-1764
Email: sshillinglaw@vts.edu

Alexandria, VA - At its November 9, 2011, board meeting, the trustees of Virginia Theological Seminary made historic decisions that will move the Seminary forward with its plans to build a new chapel.

Based on recommendations by the Chapel for the Ages Committee to the board's Building and Grounds Committee, the trustees unanimously approved the Chapel Concept Designs as developed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York. The building envisioned will complement the red brick of the historic buildings currently on campus and will include a slate roof and a motor court at the ceremonial entrance to the chapel. The blueprint for the chapel acknowledges the need for support rooms such as a sacristy, a vesting room, a choir room, and a nursery.

The worship space is designed in the shape of a Greek cross with seating such that no one will be situated more than seven rows away from the altar. The design allows for plenty of natural light although no decision has been made about the use of stained glass.

"Our trustees are completely engaged in the building of our new chapel,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of Virginia Seminary. “Not only have they given 100% financially to our efforts, they have worked hard to ensure that this new place of worship will serve the community for generations to come.”

Robert A.M. Stern Architects' design also responds to projects that have for years been under consideration at the Seminary: the repositioning of the Welcome Center’s entrance toward Seminary Road and the relocation of the Seminary’s main drive-in entrance to the west along Seminary Road across from the Seminary Hill neighborhood. These changes will create a “welcome and worship quadrangle” representative of VTS’ common life.

"Naturally these designs will evolve and change,” observed Markham. “There are important conversations to have with key stakeholders, not least the City of Alexandria. But these concept designs are an important foundation.”

Additionally, the board agreed to hire the renowned Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Ltd. to design the landscaping of the new chapel and the memorial garden on the site of the 1881 Immanuel Chapel.  A timeline for these projects has yet to be set.

Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church and was founded in 1823. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 40 different dioceses and 9 different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas.

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