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Saint Bartholomews Chapel

The historical St. Bartholomew’s Chapel on the Rincon Indian Reservation was destroyed by a back country wildfire. While respecting customs was desired, emulating or recreating the past “literally” style wise was not a project goal. Design elements in plan, section, and elevation were conceived to reference and infuse meaning into the chapel, which represents the spiritual and communal heart of the rez. Rammed earth walls, radial plan elements, butterfly roof, and extensive use of locally sourced materials all draw from a limitless well of Native American and Catholic symbols and metaphors. A thin film Solar PV system, high thermal mass construction, thoughtfully placed glazing, deep overhangs and ultra low water consuming plant palette all acknowledge the traditional Native American way of living lighter on the land. The building’s straigtforward aesethic and appropriate scale fits nicely in the rural reservation setting. Attendance is up by 40% since the Chapel was rebuilt.

Specific Use of Building – Catholic Chapel and Fellowship Hall

Context+History: The design utilizes a quiver of green materials and sustainable features which seek to reconnect with the Native American cultural ethos of living in harmony with the environment.  Some of the strategies employed, (LEED Gold point level rating) include;

  • 100% natural day lighting provided by clerestory windows & skylight
  • 50% of the Chapel’s electricity is produced on site via a 5.8 kW Solar PV system
  • Sanctuary walls are formed of 2’ thick site harvest rammed earth using
  • Large roof overhangs shield windows from direct solar heat gain
  • High performance Solar E glazing
  • Ext: no painted surfaces at all. Int: very limited Low VOC paint
  • LED lighting: Ultra long life and low energy consuming
  • Carefully selected palate of ultra low water consuming plants
  • Onsite bio-swale storm water filtration

Light+Air: The Chapel is lit 100% with natural daylight. Artificial lighting is only employed for ambient reasons or for evening events.  Strategically placed operable windows also assist with natural ventilation. Tall narrow slit windows provide constant connection between the int. and the environment. The passage of time can be experienced via the movement of light pouring  through the 25’ wide elliptical skylight over the altar, the Chapel’s focal point.  Small artisan made blue glass blocks interrupt the repetition and visual hardness of the exposed CMU block wall in the Fellowship Hall adding beautiful jewel like pieces of luminescence.

Energy: Designed to consume about a quarter less energy than a comparable building, the project generates a majority of its own electricity on site from a 5.8 kW thin film PV system that invisibly integrates into the metal standing seam panels.  An on-demand tankless water heater dramatically reduces energy consumption for a building that is only used a few hours a week.  Insta-hots at all hand sinks likewise reduce energy and water consumption since there is no waiting/lag time.

Materials: Almost the entire building features exposed finished materials that are sustainable and are rated for long life cycles.  The signature element are the (2) 60’ long rammed earth walls that flank the Sanctuary, made from 120 tons of soil sourced directly from the building site.  The Oak wood used in the Altar furnishings and the 4 ton boulder that became the baptismal font were also harvested from the Reservation. There are no painted surfaces on the exterior and virtually no drywall or paint on the interior.  Eliminating glued down carpet and vinyl flooring, dramatically improves the indoor air quality. The wood veneered aluminum ceiling system has a very high recycled content, as does the CMU block walls, and concrete slab flooring.  Ultra long life LED lighting also reduce energy and difficult to change bulbs, rated to 10 years.

Long Life Cycle:  The previous Chapel was destroyed by a wild fire, so the skin was designed to be highly fire resistant. Long wearing and highly durable materials such as the metal roof, 2 foot thick rammed earth walls, exposed CMU block walls, and terrazzo grinding the exposed concrete slab floor, ensures that the building will continue to look good and require a minimal amount of refurbishment and maintenance, best serving current and future generations.

Project Location – 2 Mazzetti Lane, Valley Center, Ca. 92082

Notable Accomplishments

  • 100% natural day lighting mixed with LED lighting
  • Sustainable building materials used
  • Highly fire resistant

Award Credit

Design Architect
Kevin deFreitas Architects, AIA
Kevin deFreitas
San Diego, Chapter
Envision Engineering
Alex Barajas
1125 W. Morena Blvd., Suite B
San Diego, CA 92110
Landscape Architect
Neil Hadley
931 Chalcedony Street
San Diego, CA 92109-2502
General Contractor
Lusardi Construction Company
Tim Obrist, Project Manager
1570 Linda Vista Dr.
San Marcos CA 92078
760-744-3133 Ext. 1240
Desai Architects
Manish Desai
Mechanical Engineer
Stueven Engineering
Jason Van Der Veen
Plumbing & Electrical Engineer
BTA Engineers
Bong Manlulu
Furnishings Consultant
Wood & Iron Factory
Norberto Guiterrez
Harrison Photographic
David Harrison
639 W. Grape
San Diego, CA 92101


Zorana Bosnic, RIBA, LEED AP
Vice President and the Sustainable Design Director
San Francisco, CA

Zorana Bosnic, RIBA, LEED AP is a Vice President and the Sustainable Design Director with HOK in San Francisco. Educated at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, she started her carrier in London, joined HOK in Hong Kong and then moved to San Francisco office in 1999. As a Senior Project Designer she worked on numerous projects in Europe, South East Asia, Middle East and West Coast USA. Her expertise includes projects in office, corporate commercial, campus design, and hospitality sector. She has a keen interest in sustainable design technologies applied to façade engineering, focusing on energy savings and daylight enhancement technologies. To ensure the practice maintains its expertise, Zorana combines her project design work at HOK with research and active participation in international sustainable organizations, as well as promotion of sustainable practices throughout the community. She brings her breadth of design leadership, technological knowledge and an international perspective to this key role at HOK.

Kevin deFreitas, AIA
Kevin deFreitas Architects
San Diego, CA

A native of San Diego, Kevin deFreitas is a licensed architect and developer who is extremely passionate about the quality of the built environment. Kevin deFreitas Architects, AIA was established in 1998 as a multi-disciplinary practice to expand beyond the traditional boundaries of design, allowing the firm to self-develop several experimental and innovative urban in-fill projects that otherwise would not have been achievable. Understanding architecture to be the art of listening to both the client and the site, and the craft of solving problems elegantly, the firm’s portfolio contains appropriate, creative, and sustainable designs. These range from institutions and retail, to private homes and interiors, and have been widely published and recognized for clearly expressing optimism, a meaningful connection to place, straight forward materiality, thoughtful sustainability, and a strong visual presence. Kevin’s collegiate studies began at the University of San Diego and culminated when he graduate cum laud with a Bachelor’s of Architecture from the University of Arizona in 1992. Along the way he studied at Cal Berkeley and Syracuse University’s study abroad program in Florence Italy. Kevin’s education continues; every project, and each client, presents new opportunities to learn and grow.

Randy Hanna, AIA
ARCHITECTS Hanna Gabriel Wells
San Diego, CA

A principal of ARCHITECTS hanna gabriel wells, Randy Hanna is active in community and his profession.

Mr. Hanna has over 24 years of architectural experience with a multitude of building types. He has been instrumental in the design of several College & University projects, Corporate Office Campuses, Institutional facilities and specialty projects ranging from grocery stores to rowing clubs. ARCHITECTS hanna gabriel wells are proven leaders in sustainable design– their projects reflecting deliberate efforts towards environmental responsibility. Of note, their own office was designated as San Diego’s first “Net Zero Energy” commercial building and received LEED Gold Certification. The firm has received numerous design awards for their work. Randy was instrumental in establishing the San Diego AIA Chapter Design Awards program and served as chair for three years. He also served for two years on the CCAIA Awards committee. His involvement with education continues through his involvement as a guest juror for Arizona State University, Woodbury University and the New School of Architecture in San Diego.

Dan Heinfeld, FAIA
LPA Inc.
San Diego, CA

President of LPA Inc., Dan Heinfeld has been the partner in charge of design since 1986 and is responsible for the overall design direction of the firm. During his tenure as President, LPA has been recognized with 118 AIA awards from national, state and component chapters with an unprecedented 33 years of continuous recognition from the AIAOC Chapter. Heinfeld has made sustainable design the focus of his career and the firm’s as well. A LEED accredited professional since 2001, Heinfeld has lectured to community groups and development organizations, which include California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; California State University, Fullerton; and the University of Arizona. His message revolves around the importance of sustainable design and its legacy on the condition of our physical environment. Through Heinfeld’s leadership, LPA has completed 12 LEED certified projects with another 12 in construction and 30 more in design/construction document –all in the state of California.

Brad Jacobson, AIA, EHDD
EHDD Architecture
San Francisco, CA

Brad Jacobson, LEED AP, AIA, currently leads some of EHDD’s high performance projects including a zero energy, LEED Platinum office building for the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and the carbon neutral Nevada State College Master Plan. He served as Project Architect on Carnegie Institution’s Global Ecology Research Center, an interdisciplinary research center at Stanford University that reduced carbon emissions from energy and materials by over 60% and was named a National AIA Top Ten Green Building in 2007. Brad was Project Manager on Stanford’s Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, a 25,000 square-foot research facility featuring exceptional daylighting and an underfloor air distribution system, and completed a feasibility study, sponsored by Stanford University’s School of Engineering, for an innovative dormitory and research laboratory designed to test and demonstrate sustainable building methods and technologies. Brad received his Bachelors of Arts in Urban Studies from Stanford University and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. He is co-founder of Bay Area Leadership in Sustainable Architecture, or BALSA, which brings together leading architects to accelerate progress towards a sustainable future. He taught a course entitled “Green Architecture” at Stanford University’s School of Engineering from 2003-2008.

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