architecture / design / landscape

Bishop’s Chapel

by Bill Dickinson, Richmond, va

Several years ago in my trips across the Willey Bridge  in Richmond, I began to notice a very thoughtful little building rising up upon the north bank of the James River and assumed it was going to be another private custom home on a prized river lot. As time went on, I purposely drove slowly across the bridge as I’d go from my home in the Southwest of town to the West End along the far right lane heading northward. I realized as the little building took shape it would become a chapel, full of light by day and of outward glow by night. At a distant glance from the bridge below the hillside during construction and framing,  I could see a tall silhouette engaged in a thoughtful counterpoint of light and mass.

The massing is deliberate and clear. A Plinth – horizontal and of the ground – marking a Place upon it; an enclosure for gathering within – vertical lines of wood like the trees upon the hill of this Place; tall openings – of glass – a frame that projects the eye into the rolling Piedmont landscape; and a steeply pitched roof lifting the eye to the sky and beyond.

If authenticity is a measure of good architecture, this is a fine example.

Josh McCullar

Bishop’s Chapel at Roslyn Retreat was built in 2009 for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. It is a truly remarkable building and a fine work of craft by Alexandria and Richmond based Bartzen+Ball Architects. Tut Bartzen researched traditional Virginia church plans and Carpenter Gothic traditions to create something unique and appropriate to this region. He was kind enough to send us a slide show on the project. {updated November 12, 2012}

by Seton Droppers, Arlington, Va


6 thoughts on “Bishop’s Chapel

  1. I think that the comments Mr. McCullar has made are both poetic and insightful. The chapel is a spiritual place and should invoke a humble appreciation of both our relationship with nature and God. Bill Dickinson’s photo is just plain beautiful.

  2. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful remarks about our Bishop’s Chapel project at Roslyn. This project was a unique opportunity for us, and we are honored that our work has connected with people on some level.

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