U. of Tampa Chapel to Encourage Values
(08/08/2011)

TAMPA, Fla. — A dedication marked the completion of the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values at the University of Tampa, making it the one of the most architecturally significant buildings on campus.

The 15,000-square-foot project, which was initiated by the private university’s president Ronald Vaughn, was designed by global architecture firm tvdesign.

“We used our global perspective to design the architecture of the Center to express values of faith and spirituality common to all cultures,” said Robert Balke, principal with tvsdesign.

Vaughn said donors John and Susan Sykes embraced the vision of strengthening student development through depth of character, strong values, and sense of spirituality — and then generously gave a multimillion dollar gift to build a unique center to help shape students’ lives.

“We chose tvsdesign as our architect, and along with their team, the Sykes, and our own internal team, we researched places of contemplation and worship in the world, searched the U.S. and Europe for materials and suppliers, listened to different types of organs, and explored designs for future phases of the project,” he said. 

The Center features a gallery, meeting room, two meditation rooms, and a main hall with reconfigurable seating for 260 people, expandable stage, and one of Florida’s largest pipe organs.

The windows in the meditation rooms and doors were designed by glass artist Guy Kemper, and the granite and stainless steel sculpture in the meditation garden was designed by sculptor Clint Button.

The facility also features two gardens — the Sunrise Garden and the Sykes Meditation Garden.

Design firm officials said the chapel is located in the geographical center of the campus.

“Its location and future quadrangle plaza designed by tvsdesign will be the heart of campus, suitable for a wide range of campus events and student gatherings,” officials said.

The chapel is designed to create a sense of rhythm and order using the architectural principle of the “divine” or “golden proportion,” while using the warmth of wood and other components suggests the ethereal nature of spirituality, design firm officials said.

“The building interior is shaped by light and sound; like two cupped hands held slightly apart, light enters from above and from the east,” Balke said. “Daylight and music are reflected and diffused by the warm, curving interior forms of the undulating wooden walls.”

The building’s exterior is composed of granite, zinc metal, and red brick to match the rest of the campus. All materials were chosen to endure and perform well in direct sunlight and severe weather, officials said.

“This dedication is long awaited by many people and for many different reasons,” Vaughn said. “Having such a place will elevate the intellectual discourse at UT and nurture the development of character and values of our students.”

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