Works of Mercy

Submitted by Emil Frei & Associates

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Client: Catholic Charities

Location: Oklahoma City, OK, United States

Completion date: Jan 01, 2019

Project Team

Designer

William Frank

Emil Frei & Associates

Client

Catholic Charities

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Architect

MASS Architects

MASS Architects

Photographer

Simon Hurst

Simon Hurst Photography

Overview

A suite of six stained glass windows commissioned by Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City for its St. Teresa of Calcutta Chapel. Each window is 2’ x 16’ and is created in leaded glass, oxide stains, acid etching.

Goals

Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City serves its local community through social service programs aimed to eliminate material, emotional, and spiritual poverty. Its newly constructed center hugs the curvature of N. Classen Blvd. in an understated gesture of service and approachability to those in need. St. Teresa of Calcutta Chapel and its windows were an essential component of the building’s overall designs, representing the programs that address clients’ spiritual poverty.
The chapel windows, completed in 2019, were commissioned to provide a welcoming beacon to passersby outside, to create a calm and meditative environment for chapel visitors, and to express the mission and identity of Catholic Charities.

Process

Collaboration began with a meeting between stained-glass studio Emil Frei & Associates and a committee from Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City to discuss goals for the chapel windows. The client asked that the windows express its mission of service and be rooted in scripture. Designer William Frank created a lively color scheme that echoes the purple, yellow, green, blue, and red petals of the Catholic Charities logo. Biblical scenes representing the corporal works of mercy are subtly woven into the composition.

Emil Frei & Associates collaborated with Mass Architects to ensure that the stained glass could be effectively lit in the evening. They determined that the optimal design solution was to provide a brightly lit, neutral wall opposite the windows, thereby creating a lightbox effect at night. Because the windows are north-facing and receive no direct sunlight, William Frank chose a neutral background of textured glass for the colorful petals. The bright palette allows ample natural light to enter the chapel. The composition of petals flows across all six lancet windows and references the layered movement of the chapel’s ceiling panels (a pattern established by the architect), creating a sense of overall unity.