The Chapel + Cultural Center (C+CC) was conceived as a functional multi-purpose facility, drawing together the sacred and the secular, religious services and performing and visual arts, educational and social events. Serving both the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) community and our neighbors in Troy, it is a meeting place where “gown and town” can work together toward mutual understanding and acceptance.
The C+CC is the regular home to the University Parish, Christ Sun of Justice, which is the center of the Roman Catholic Community at RPI. People of all faiths, however, are welcomed and frequently use the C+CC for services.
The Main Auditorium
The main auditorium is equipped for the performing arts, as well as use for large religious services, social events, etc. For secular uses, the Main Auditorium can be separated from the Sanctuary by sliding panel doors. The room comfortably seats 225 and, at full capacity can accommodate 350 people. The room’s acoustics are particularly good for acoustical instrumental and a cappella vocal musical performances. For these reasons, the C+CC auditorium has become a second home to a number of RPI’s music ensembles.
Portable seating, modular staging, professional grade theatrical lighting and sound systems and wireless connection to the Internet make possible flexible arrangement and orientations of the room to accommodate a wide variety of live musical, theatrical and cinematic performances and presentations.
The auditorium houses C+CC’s baroque, single manual, 11 rank, 614 pipe organ originally built in the 19th century and rebuilt by Sidney Chase of Worcester, New York. The action of the organ is entirely mechanical (trackers).
The auditorium is also home to our Steinway grand piano, which was recently rebuilt and is maintained by Gary Gallucci, a certified Steinway Master Technician.
The Rose Window on the East wall of the auditorium features an unwinding spiral, suggesting the life/growth process. It was designed by Ade Bethune of Newport, and executed by Carl Paulson of Upton, Massachusetts.
Next to the Bethune oculus hangs a massive fragment of the “Spoil Bank Crucifix” carved by Eric Gilland acquired from the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic, Sussex, England
The seal of the Rensselaer Newman Foundation hangs between the entry doorways; it was designed by Graham Carey of Benson, Vermont and carved by Kenneth Eager of the Guild of Sts. Joseph and Dominick in England.
The alphabets (Hebrew, Greek, and Roman), designed by Edward M. Catich of Davenport, Iowa, and painted on the floor of the auditorim, give the room letters “which are the components of words which enable it to ‘speak’ to the people who use it”.
The Hallway Gallery and Baptistery
The walls of the entrance hallway and baptismal area are equipped for gallery exhibitions which change every four to eight weeks. Larger exhibitions may also use the Lounge-Conference Room (see below). All together, C+CC provides 150 lineal feet of lighted gallery wall space.
The unique baptismal font was integrated into the construction of the building. The font runs continuously and is big enough for baptism by immersion.
The Sanctuary is used for weekday and other small services.
The Sanctuary is home to a 15th-century Spanish polychromed stone Pieta on loan from Robert Petricca (RPI class of ’66) of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
George Nakashima of New Hope, Pennsylvania made the Chapel furniture, including the altar.
The corpus on the sanctuary’s crucifix was made by Nancy Price Carey of Benson, Vermont, and the crucifix itself was fabricated with William McLoughlin of Troy, a member of our Board of Trustees, a parishioner, and an RPI alumnus.
The lounge-conference room is the hub of all smaller, more intimate gatherings. The room can comfortably accommodate 75 people and can be configured for any activity from lectures, concerts and films to formal dinners for 60. If two separate spaces are required, the room can be divided into two areas by a soundproof, retractable wall. The rooms are serviced by a kitchen which is connected to them by a service bar.
The room is furnished in architecturally significant period pieces. The steel and leather chairs in front of the fireplace are the Wassily Chair, designed by Marcel Breuer. The Prague chairs used in the conference room, as well as the Breuer chairs are represented in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The two eight-foot conference tables are the work of George Nakashima.
The Lounge is also the home of “The Crowning of the Virgin”, an important piece of polychromatic 15th-century sculpture, given to the C+CC by Robert Petricca of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.