Bigelow Chapel at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

Sacred Space That Welcomes All

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, located near Minneapolis, is ecumenical: its 250 students come from a variety of denominational and faith backgrounds, including United Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Judaism, Baptist, African Methodist Episcopal, and Unitarian Universalist.

In order to truly serve and support its students, the seminary needed a new, flexible sanctuary that would not only accommodate a variety of seating configurations, but also—as the focus of the 5,300-SF building—had to be accessible to and resonate with everyone in the seminary’s diverse community.

In response, HGA developed a space that expresses transcendence through intimacy, warmth, and light. Such qualities are beautifully conveyed through a series of translucent maple panels that ripple up and down the interior of the sanctuary’s west-facing wall. The translucent wood radiates warmth while the curves wrap visitors in a welcoming embrace, creating an intimate environment. Daylight light enters the sanctuary through clerestory windows and skylights, while two large windows in the sanctuary frame landscaped views of a meditation garden. Floating forms are used throughout the chapel building, giving the structure a sense of weightlessness and grace, a place that beckons one to pray and reflect.


New Brighton, MN

Building Type



5,000 SF

  • 2006 AIA Honor Award for Architecture (national)
  • 2006 SCUP/AIA-CAE Excellence in Campus Architecture Honor Award (national)
  • 2005 AIA Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture (IFRAA) Honor Award (international)
  • 2005 Veneer Technologies Incorporated, The Craftsmanship Challenge Grand Award
  • 2005 The Cast Stone Institute Honor Award
  • 2005 Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute Design Award (national)
  • 2005 The Wood Design & Building Honor Award (national)
  • 2005 American Council of Engineering Companies Honor Award–Structural Systems (national)
  • 2005 American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota Grand Award– Structural Systems
  • 2005-2006 Grand Award, Custom Woodworking Business’ Annual Design Portfolio
  • 2004 AIA Minnesota Honor Award

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