Cambridge Architectural, the world’s most experienced – and only full-service provider – of functional and visually intriguing metal fabric solutions, recently fabricated a custom Landscape Interior application for the new Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.
The chapel doors open to a balanced expanse of lofty heights and solid stone. The 47-foot ceilings are adorned with a custom-designed Cambridge Architectural metal fabric application that mimics billowing sails. The Grid metal fabric pattern, supported by custom Frame attachment hardware, was painted then sanded to create a weathered maritime white.
The 35,000 square-foot facility includes a 410-seat chapel, classrooms, a meeting room for the Brigade Honor Board, library, media center and offices for the brigade’s social director and academic board. The adjoining Fellowship Hall honors distinguished alumni, including Jewish athletes, Jewish women of the Navy, a tribute to Commodore Levy, naval heroes of all denominations, and other rotating exhibits.
“Our goal was to attain an ethereal quality of light,” says Architect Joseph Boggs, FAIA of Boggs & Partners. “With the weightless appearance of the metal fabric, color choices and up-lighting, the metal fabric sails appear to be floating up towards the heavens.”
Inside the chapel, mosaic tiling and a 45-foot-tall stone wall inspired by the Temple Mount’s Western Wall contrast with the openness of the woven metal. Both features are constructed of stone quarried in Jerusalem.
The architects at Boggs & Partners, inspired by a contrast between heavenly light above and earthen elements below, chose Cambridge because of the company’s proximity to the project and their ability to custom fabricate.
“The engineering team at Cambridge Architectural helped achieve our vision,” says Project Manager Bonnie K. Johnson of Boggs & Partners. “We visited the factory to approve a full-scale mockup of the metal fabric application before it was manufactured and we worked together to meet the challenges inherent in a project of this scale.”
Cambridge maintains a fully staffed engineering department to assist with installation details, framing design, and load characteristics, and is also available for on-site installation supervision.
“The potential applications for our architectural mesh solutions are limitless,” explains Heather Collins, Cambridge’s director of marketing. “Much of Cambridge’s mission is to encourage architects simply to experiment with metal fabric.”
Cambridge’s Grid metal fabric pattern is a rigid open weave often used in stair rail systems and grillwork.
Custom-designed Frame attachment hardware incorporates fabricated brackets for integrated stainless steel cable support systems. An angle bar frames expanses of metal fabric with a combination of welded and mechanical connections.
Before the construction of the Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel, Jewish midshipmen attended services at the academy’s nondenominational chapel or local synagogues.
The $15.5 million facility opened with a dedication ceremony September 18, 2005. Its namesake, Commodore Uriah P. Levy (1792-1862), made important strides for Jews during the War of 1812, and fought against anti-Semitism and corporal punishment in the Navy. His actions lead to several courts-martial being dismissed on the grounds of discrimination. Levy was given the Navy’s then-highest rank of commodore, and control over the entire Mediterranean fleet.
In 1836 Commodore Levy purchased and preserved Monticello, home of former president Thomas Jefferson, which became the inspiration for the entrance of the Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel.
Boggs & Partners, Annapolis, MD, served as the project’s architect and Whiting Turner Construction Company, Towson, MD, as the contractor.
Photographs by David Christiansen