From the beginning of the planning of Principia, the student body had requested that the Chapel be the first building constructed, and they asked that it be American Colonial in style. After studying meeting houses and churches in Massachusetts and the exposed site high on a bluff overlooking the river, Maybeck developed a design that involved the use of steel, concrete, and Bedford Indiana limestone. In order to avoid the “institutional effect,” Maybeck placed the windows with uneven spacing. Also, the interior of the Chapel is faced in random-width boards. Considering the Chapel a central feature of the campus, Maybeck worked very closely with Frederic Morgan and often referred to the Chapel as his favorite building at Principia. In a letter dated 21 April 1934, Maybeck wrote: “Our Chapel will be the climax of Colonial Church art.” In terms of its dense steel framework, heavy reinforcing steel in the foundation, and footings 7 times larger than usual, the Chapel remains a very permanent structure without cracks in the reinforced concrete over the past 70 years. The Chapel strikes a fine balance between formality and informality. The stonework, while carefully measured, is “shot-sawn,” leaving filings in the grooves to rust and thereby create texture, color and age.

Maybeck at Principia Anderson Hall Brooks House Buck House Howard House Rackham Court Sylvester House
Chapel Mistake House Morey Field House Radford House Watson Building