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St. Pauls Chapel Columbia University Campus - Essay Example

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Paul’s Chapel on the east side rises unostentatiously above its surrounding buildings. Only the dome and a judicious touch of yellow and white marble on…
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St. Pauls Chapel Columbia University Campus
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Download file to see previous pages It’s a triumph of the Chapel’s architecture that it manages to be both of and apart from the Columbia University campus that surrounds it. It’s also one of the most interesting things about the Chapel: the ways it uses architectural details to create a sense of sacred space on the bustling campus.
You enter the Chapel through a columned portico (another departure from other University buildings, which have open porticoes). Above the portico, the Latin phrase Pro ecclesia Dei (for the Church of God) is carved in clean Roman lettering. The portico, though technically outside the building, functions as the Chapel’s narthex, or entrance. (Because the Chapel is designed according to the traditional cruciform — or Latin cross — plan, as befits an Episcopal place of worship, entering the Chapel through the narthex is on the western end of the building, opposite the liturgical east position of the altar.) It serves another purpose as well. With its exquisitely carved cherub-crested column porticoes, exquisitely tiled ceiling and inlaid marble floors, the portico is also a transition from the everyday to the sacred. Stepping between the columns, you enter a space of echoing silence and shadowy beauty, narrow like the path to heaven and as intricately detailed as a medieval painting. (I liked the scallop shells on either side of the portico; even if I hadn’t known they were a traditional symbol to welcome pilgrims, their mysterious presence amid the brick and limestone would have added to the otherworldly aura of the building.) The portico, which is both open and closed at the same time, inside and outside the Chapel, part of and not part of the campus, serves as an appropriate entrance to the spiritual space of the Chapel. Just walking the relatively short distance, you find your footsteps slowing down, the outside world receding almost like a dream.
The interior is justifiably praised for its ornate loveliness, and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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