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Grace in Built Form

Grace in Built Form

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Published by TheLivingChurchdocs
Architect Duo Dickinson: “I wanted to convey in built form the deep sense of grace I feel every day of my life.”
Architect Duo Dickinson: “I wanted to convey in built form the deep sense of grace I feel every day of my life.”

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Published by: TheLivingChurchdocs on Sep 06, 2012
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THE LIVING CHURCH • September 23, 2012
By Richard J. Mammana, Jr.
I
ncarnationCenterinIvoryton,Connecticut,grewoutof a late 19th-century “fresh air” ministry of theChurch of theIncarnation,Manhattan.From itsbegin-nings in the summer of 1886 in a rented farmhouse onMohegan Lake, New York, it served the children of recent immigrants, affording them an opportunity toexperience rural American life. Incarnation moved toIvoryton in 1929 and its ministry has now flourishedthrough three centuries. Today, Incarnation Center offersconferencefacilitiesallyealong, a traditional summer campsupported by the Diocese of NewYorkandparishesintheDioceseof Connecticut,Elderhostelactivities,and a wide range of year-roundnature programs on a wooded property close to the ConnecticutRiverand LongIslandSound.The most recent chapter in thelifeofIncarnationCenterbeganwiththeconsecrationon June 9 of a new chapel, designed in its architect’swords to be “large enough to create a place for every-oneatcampandvisitinggroupstoassemble,sing,and perform in a variety of expressions.” It seats up to 320children or 240 adults, and embraces an impressive2,300squarefeet on theshoreof LakeMohegan.Theconstructionphase,fromgroundbreakingtocon-secration, took just three months in early 2012, allow-ing for use of the chapel throughout this year’s peakcamping season. All engineering and design servicesweredonated.Ispokerecentlywithaward-winningarchitect Duo Dickinson — a camper at Incarnation in 1964 and 1965 —about his work on this project. Dick-inson, properties chair at TrinityChurch on the Green in New Haven,beganhisownarchitecturalpracticein1987.
The New York Times
hasdescribedhisbuildinganddesignphi-
Grace in Built Form
All engineeringand design servicesfor IncarnationCenter weredonated.
 
September 23, 2012 • THE LIVING CHURCH
9
losophy in succinct terms: “Design it small, make it asbeautiful as possible and practice every trick in thebooktokeepitascheapaspossible.”Dickinsonisareg-ular newspaper columnist, lecturer, and blogger onarchitecturalmatters(savedbydesign.wordpress.com).His most recent book is
Staying Put: Remodel Your  House To Get the Home You Want
(Taunton Press,2011).
How does your new design relate to the previouschapel?
The new chapel replaces a structure built well over 50 years ago and refurbished 20 years ago. Rather thanignoring the legacy of the original chapel, the designincorporates the original sign and cross, but most sig-nificantly,theexactshapeoftheoriginalchapelisrepli-cated as the central crowning roof form. The earlier chapel measured 600 square feet, so the new chapel isalmost four times the size. The altar area/deck is anadditional450squarefeet.
An interview with Duo Dickinson, Architect
(Continued on next page)
 
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THE LIVING CHURCH • September 23, 2012
Youhavementionedthatyoudrewinspirationforthe new chapel from barn design.
The trusses are field-ganged rot-proof stock dimen-sional lumber yellow pine, and thus have the raw andrough-hewn sensibility of a barn. The angled shroudsthatprotecttheinteriorsteelcolumnsfromtheweather arewroughtofthesamematerial.Justlikeabarn,therewill be some warping, checking and rough edges. Butalsolikeabarnthenewchapeliscomfortableinitsownskin, and engineered to weather well over the longterm.
 What made the chapel design and constructionprocess different from your work for non-reli-gious clients?
Ihavedesignedabout500homesforprivateclientsover the last 30 years, but from the start at least 20 percentoftheworkofourfirmhasbeendedicatedto
 probono
or at-cost work for not-for-profits, so the budget con-straintspresented by this project were familiar. With a tight budget of $180,000,our single goal was toaccommodate the entiresleep-awaycamppopula-tion under one roof for worshipatthesametime.PaulTorcelliniofWaverlyConstruction,ScottErric-son of E2 engineers, andmy office spent the bet-ter part of a year in per-mitting, budgeting, and planning to make this process come together in the nick of time within thespecified budget. For me, the result was a vibrant andexpressive wood-wrought celebration of the site, thecamp, and of the Holy Spirit.
 Whataboutotherfactorsindesignthatwouldseta chapel for campers apart from other buildingprojects?
My personal history of learning to canoe and campherealmost50yearsago,andhavingdesignedaboutdozen other projects at Incarnation over the last 25 years, as well as sitting on its board, created a host of interminglingimperatives.Itwasveryimportanttometo have specifications for this project that required“zero maintenance” for the staff of the center goingforward.Thismeansthestructurewillresisttheravagesofweather,rust,graffiti,andregularwearfromuse.ButIalsowantedtoconveyinbuiltformthedeepsenseof 
‘If what I haveto offer leveragesa greater goodthen myindebtednesscreatesabundance.’
Grace in Built Form
An interview with Duo Dickinson, Architect
(Continued from previous page)

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