Consultants: HP Engineering (MEP), Myers-Beatty Engineering (Structural)
Landscape Architect: Dan Sauerwein
Owner/Client: Rio Roca Ranch
General Contractor: English Heritage Homes (Michael Taylor Supervisor)
Text description provided by the architects. The Rio Roca Chapel is a carefully articulated wooden structure which is coupled with opulent textures and set against an awe-inspiring landscape. Its lightweight wood structure is braced elegantly with tension bars and turnbuckles, providing support for the walls and copper roof. The chapel’s configuration is essentially an intricate weaving of steel and wood flitch systems with tongue and groove decking above.
The shift between plateau and river bluff is traversed by a stone retaining wall; through which visitors go through to enter the chapel, and after which the magnificent views of the Brazos River are exposed.
The site’s axis runs east-west parallel along the river to capitalize on the landscape and view of School House Mountain, therefore the glazing present on corresponding exterior walls allows a relatively unobstructed view thorough the chapel. This transparent quality truly expresses the divine purpose of this building; the light filtered into the chapel primarily enters from above, and is playfully reflected and refracted throughout.
The locale of the chapel, in a part of Texas dotted with oil and gas rigs, has determined the aesthetic quality of the detailing. While the forms of a well and this chapel are largely apart, the threaded connections, held in place by set screws, which allow for minor adjustment and tensioning are alike. The use of these connections, such as turnbuckles, also allows much of the wooden structure to be fabricated offsite.