The quaint chapel within the 35,000-square-foot Joni and Friends International Disability Center is a quiet refuge at the heart of the building. Designed to honor the vision of Joni Eareckson Tada and her nonprofit organization, the new building honors accessibility and her Christian faith.
An artist and activist, Joni was paralyzed in a 1967 diving accident, leaving her in a wheelchair without the use of her hands. Today Joni hosts a weekly radio program, advocating for accessibility and encouraging those of her faith.
Gensler wanted to give permanence to the mission of Joni’s organization. To capture the essence of the outreach movement of Joni and Friends, the architects created a space that is not only inspirational and functional, but one that also supports the organization’s collaborative work style as well as their Christian faith.
The chapel appears to float above a reflecting pool in the core of the building and is surrounded by an unfolding sculptural ramp. Clear glass guardrails reflect natural light that permeates the space through a cross-shaped skylight. The ramp itself was conceived both as an accessibility solution, and as a symbol of life’s journey.
The intimate devotional space is spare and elegant. Interior walnut floors and white, plaster walls are adorned by the shifting light that suffuses the space through an inlaid glass cross within the front wall.
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Acoustical: Communicon Designs, Colorado Springs, CO Irwindale, CA
Special doors (sound control, X-ray, etc.): Security Acoustics (Security Metal Products Corp.)
Exit devices: Von Duprin
Security devices: Von Duprin
Cabinet hardware: Hafele America Co.
Suspension grid: Armstrong
Cabinet/custom woodwork: California Woodworking
Paints and stains: Frazee Paint
Paneling: Whisper Walls
Plastic laminate: Wilsonart International Inc.
Special surfacing: Real Illusions Inc. (Venetian plaster)
Floor and wall tile: Dal-Tile Corp.(restrooms)
Resilient flooring: Allstate
Carpet: Bentley Prince Street Inc.
Wood Floor: LV Wood Floors / Dex-O-Tex (Crossfield
Reception furniture: California Woodworking (desk); Knoll Inc.
Fixed seating: Martin Brattrud, California Woodworking
Chairs: Knoll Inc., AllSteel Inc.
Tables: dTank Inc.
Other furniture: HBF
Downlights: Lithonia Lighting, Intense, Lighting, Peachtree Lighting