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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
December 2011
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: A Sacred Place

Architectural Firm of the Month: Boggs & Partners Architects

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Here at Devonian Stone of New York, Inc., we wish everyone a Joyous Holiday Season and all the best for a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Architectural Firm of the Month: Boggs & Partners Architects
Boggs Partners IAMAW
Boggs & Partners Architects brings the experience of three practiced architects together as partners in design, management and execution of a wide range of projects. The firm's portfolio illustrates a developed skill at expressive design within a range of contextual environments, which is both inventive and sophisticated in the use of architectural forms. The over 60 completed projects, reviewed in international journals, demonstrate a consistency of quality and purpose at a variety of scales. The working of materials and careful execution of details, the formal relationship of parts and the final understanding of form in response to setting characterize the work.

Boggs & Partners Architects have been responsible for the design of commercial, corporate, healthcare, retail, residential and government facilities. The firm has received international acclaim for its innovative design and planning solutions. Joseph A. Boggs FAIA, working with the partners and the staff, demonstrates an extraordinary ability to translate strong conceptual approaches into equally compelling architectural forms. The award winning World Headquarters for the Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Filene Center II epitomize the continual efforts to explore the issues of transforming theoretical aspirations into the realities of built form.


Headquartered in Annapolis, MD, the firm is organized to service the Mid-Atlantic region and internationally, with a satellite office in Doha, Qatar, while facilitating the proper and efficient execution of projects.


For more information visit:

Topic of the Month: A Sacred Place    

Boggs Partners Chapel"Sacred" is something that is difficult to define in words, but we know it when we feel it. It is a sense of quietude, comfort, reverence, peace, and wonder that allows us to welcome a connection with something that is greater than ourselves. This is the feeling that softly but profoundly pervades the Uriah P. Levy Jewish Chapel at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis MD, designed by architect Joseph Boggs, FAIA of Boggs & Partners.

The Chapel was named after Commodore Uriah Phillips Levy who was born in 1792 into a distinguished Jewish family of Philadelphia patriots. He began his naval career at age 10 and served his country until his death in 1862. He was the first Jewish American in the U.S. Navy to attain a rank equivalent to admiral. Commodore Levy was known for abolishing the barbarous practice of corporal punishment in the U.S. Navy and also for purchasing, restoring and preserving Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, which he bequeathed to the people of the United States in his will.

The building has a classic design with modern Beaux Arts beauty and order. It is an ethereal building of space and natural light. Boggs explains, "It was an eight-year project from start to finish and because it is a national historic registered building, the project had to receive approval from federal, state and local historic organizations. I also had to create a design that was sympathetic to the Beaux Arts style of architecture."

The most outstanding aspects of the Chapel that help create its sacred atmosphere are its light and its height. The chapel is a vertically oriented space, framed in metal, stone and wood. A soft, filtered, natural light comes into the space from above and draws the eyes upward. Shoji glass (handmade rice paper laminated between two layers of glass) is used on the side walls to allow light to penetrate the space while lending a sense of protection and solitude. Light is also filtered in through painted woven stainless-steel arced scrims that are suspended with nautical rigging. The scrims help form the view up to the silver-leafed 47-foot ceiling. Boggs explains, "The scrims pull the building apart vertically and lift your spirit up."

Boggs' concept to create a sacred space also incorporated the use of elements reminiscent of the ancient. This was done with stone from Jerusalem. A nearly 40-foot-high hand-carved Jerusalem stone wall in the Chapel was inspired by the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Boggs explains, "The appearance of the wall in the Chapel is intended to evoke a sense of history and timelessness, as though we unearthed an ancient wall and floor and restored it and built a chapel around it. There are two dynamics. When you're sitting in a pew and your feet are on this beautiful curved cut thick white Jerusalem stone from Israel, you really are touching the mother land as you feel it. We tried to do the stone work in a manner in which the stone did not feel applied, but instead felt as if it had some gravitas to it. Everywhere we used stone, whether it's in the lintel or when we carved the Ten Commandments, we tried to do it in a classical way so that when people are there, they really feel like the stone work is of the old world. Every stone on the wall is a manufactured replica of one of the stones in the Wailing Wall. We were not trying to re-create the Wailing Wall, but every one of those stones and the way they are stacked are typical of that era. We couldn't take original stones out of Israel and bring them back here, so we used Jerusalem stone that was high pressure water-chiseled and hand chiseled to look aged.  The stones are about three or four inches thick. People actually have gone up to the wall and have tried to put notes in it like they do the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem."  

"It is true that a lot of synagogues use Jerusalem stone, but we really tried to do the stone the way it was done a thousand years ago. Each stone on the floor is cut in curves, each one a part of a big sweeping curve, which is the pattern of the floor. Each piece was specially done, the mosaics were shipped, and different colors of Jerusalem stone were done exactly the way they were done thousands of years ago. We tried to be honest with the stone and bring people to Israel with the stone who haven't been there. That was the objective of the stone, to take you back in time."

"The pews are made of a beautiful anigre wood from Africa. They are curved and there's this nice soft cushion so you feel like you're in a special seat. Since everything is curved, you gently see the people on the other side of you so you have a sense of community. You're not really looking at them, but you feel embraced and it's a little more honest." The seating in the Chapel faces east, towards Jerusalem.

A patterned recessed wall surrounds the large cylindrical Ark (aron kodesh), the sanctuary's container of Torah scrolls. "When you see the ark," Boggs explains, "you see a classical mosaic diagram behind the ark that represents the energy the ark is sending out through the torah, which goes outward and bends the floor and the pews into a curved shape. It's as if a big wave or a sound wave is coming out of the ark and bending everything into a circular curved shape."

The Ten Commandments have been hand-carved into large eight-foot stone tablets, which are adjacent to the Ark in the Chapel. The ancient Hebrew font replicates script found in a 4th century BCE letter from the Nile River Jewish community of Elephantine Island to the High Priest of a Temple in Jerusalem. The purpose of choosing this script, aside from its beauty, was to link a historical font to the wall.

An eternal flame is also present in the Chapel, which is called a ner tamid. Ner tamid means eternal light. In the Chapel, the ner tamid is set into the stone wall. "The same people who did the Kennedy grave at Arlington cemetery created this flame for the Chapel. It's very hard to get an open flame inside a building 24 hours a day, it's very hard to pull that off, but I didn't want the typical lighter lamp. A thousand years ago they didn't have lamps, they had flames, so you see that flame and you're just mesmerized by watching it."

The Levy Center is a denominational building that is equally nondenominational and meant to appeal to all midshipmen. There are symbols and patterns like the Star of David used throughout the Chapel in subtle ways so they are not overt. Boggs explains, "The round skylight is based on geometry and has a Star of David you don't really notice unless you really look at it. Everybody walks through that hallway so I want people who are not Jewish to look up and say, "Wow, that's beautiful," and if they look hard enough they'd see a Star of David. We wanted a design where a person of any denomination would feel embraced and people are engaged by this design."

"If Uriah P. Levy were here, I think he would be pleased. I believe he would value the homage we have paid to his mentor, Thomas Jefferson, appreciate the scrims which resemble sails, and he would see the important connection that this building has with the Academy. We have honored this man of great courage and conviction."

Boggs is indebted to Jacob Mordoch of Jerusalem Gardens Stone Works for hosting him and his team during their visit to Israel and the team at Rugo Stone, along with all the other contractors and consultants who worked on the project. He is especially grateful to the U.S. Naval Academy for its mission for the men and women of the armed forces. 


Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community

The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit: 


Architect Online's Continuing Education Center

Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit: 



Architectural Record Continuing Education Center

Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums

The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture  

CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit:

The Green Meeting Industry Council

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit: 


The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.



Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

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