The $4.5-million Semper Fidelis Memorial Park Chapel at the Marine Corps Heritage Center in Triangle, Va., will serve as a contemplative space for Marines and visitors.

Semper Fidelis Memorial Park Chapel, Triangle, Va.
Photo Courtesy Forrester Construction

Forrester Construction Co. of Rockville, Md., began construction on the 77-seat, 2,276-sq-ft sanctuary in December 2008 and finished it in September 2009, with no lost-time accidents.

The chapel, designed by Fentress of Denver, features fully exposed, bold, simple structural elements, including a locally manufactured Douglas fir timber system. The chapel resembles field chapels that Marines would have encountered in the South Pacific.

The leaning shape of the building, multiple angles, timber structure and stacked stones are all details reminiscent of a temporary soldier-made gathering place. With its exposed heavy timber beams and columns with walls of glass, the building blends into its natural surroundings.

The team used building information modeling, which brought the timber design into 3-D and identified coordination concerns. Structural timbers were hand-selected. The timbers combine handcrafted care with computer precision.

A custom, blast-resistant curtain-wall system allows full views of the park and the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The rest of the building is wrapped with a rubble stone facade to match the existing site wall. Each piece was hand-selected and hand-chiseled to provide a consistently random appearance.

The team sent the design to the stone subcontractors fabrication plant outside of Montreal, Canada, and the end result included tight radii, smooth transitions and a striking appearance. An innovative corrugated drainage system and an advanced tie system reside behind the stone.

A geothermal system, with an energy-recovery unit for added efficiency, provides climate control. The heating and cooling is delivered to the space through round duct that is run under the floor.

Key Players

Developer/Owner: Marine Corps Heritage Foundation
Construction Manager: Forrester Construction Co.
Architect: Fentress
Structural Engineer: Ammann & Whitney Consulting Engineers
MEP Engineer: Vanderweil Engineers