The Helge Center is Valparaiso University’s first campus ministries facility with the multidenominational, multicultural purpose of being, “a church in the world.” The Center is attached to the Chapel of the Resurrection, a mid-century modern building being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Chapel is the geographical and symbolic heart of the campus.
The geometry of the Chapel, together with the ‘church in the world’ idea are the basis for the Helge Center’s design. The same radial geometry underlying the Chapel’s chancel also guides the floor plan for the Helge Center. An arc centered on the Chapel and passing through its altar and free-standing campanile circumscribes the southern face of the Helge Center to form a gently curving facade that integrates the building into the sloping meadow landscape.
The building’s 11,000 square foot program consists of meeting and devotional spaces, administrative offices, a music rehearsal space and a transparent multipurpose room that links the Helge Center and Resurrection Chapel.
The building is clad in grey slate shingles that recall Resurrection Chapel’s slate flooring and zinc fascia and trim that blends with the shingles. This gives Helge Center a monolithic, but textured materiality that echoes that of Resurrection Chapel.
Budget limitations required a pragmatic approach to sustainable design. The decision to add onto the historic Chapel gives it a new vitality that helps assure its ongoing relevance. The curving south-facing glass facade is shaded by a deep overhang that covers a new campus walkway.