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A tree grows in the Colombiere Center Chapel
It all started with a beech tree that has lived for the past hundred years on the Colombiere Jesuit Brother’s bucolic 14-acre site in Baltimore, MD. The tree stands in plain view of the brothers’ new chapel, designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ). Alfred Dragani, an associate with the firm and the lead on the project, said that “as our Jesuit clients expressed a greater desire for privacy, we began to study ways of designing a shroud behind the south and north facing glass walls of the chapel that would operate like light-modulating screens. Our hope was that we could simulate the effect of an actual tree canopy, resulting in a dappled and serene light.” Dragani and his team used digital modeling (Rhino and Grasshopper) to simulate daylight conditions in the chapel throughout the year and create an interior installation in the chapel made from perforated wood panels in an organic arrangement of overlapping planes within a repetitive steel framework.