Over the spring and summer of 2009, a team of 12 students in the Advanced Design/Build Studio led by Frank Flury, associate professor of architecture, created a spiritual and cultural bridge—some 4,400 miles long—between Chicago and Boedigheim, Germany. The group designed and guided the construction of the ecumenical Field Chapel, with the help of the firm Ecker Architekten and the craftsmen, volunteer workers, and townspeople of the Odenwald/Bauland rural region of northern Germany.
After visiting the site in December 2008, Flury worked with his students over the next three months on three design alternatives. In June 2009, the IIT College of Architecture delegation arrived in Germany and broke ground for the project, which took place over an eight-week period. The Field Chapel was dedicated and open for its first travelers and hikers on July 25.
The chapel is built on a hill and is accessible only by foot or bicycle. Made entirely of wood with lumber obtained from the municipal forests in Buchen and Boedigheim, it is surrounded by four closed walls, with views open to the sky and the tower that comprises the sanctuary.
"One way that this project is significant is in its international aspect," explains Flury, who has headed other Design/Build, collaborative pro bono projects in the United States, including the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport, Miss., and the Ragdale Meadow Studio in Lake Forest, Ill. "The local community was really excited by our joint commitment to build the chapel together. I stopped counting after the more than 30 cakes they brought in celebration of the opening!"