The design for the National Shrine of St. Therese, at the Carmelite Spiritual Center in Darien, Illinois, was commissioned by The Society of the Little Flower. The 14,500-square-foot facility was envisioned as a catalyst for connecting parishioners with God, nature and each other.
The Shrine situated at the heart of the Carmelite campus is thoughtfully oriented as sensitive to physical and visual connections while serving as a central gathering space. The architectural solution pays homage to St. Therese' throughout - from the main building's shape, inspired by the unfolding petals of a flower, a nod to St. Therese's nickname "Little Flower;" to key structures, such as the plaza clock tower, reminding us of her clockmaker father; and the 24-column colonnade, serving as a symbol of St. Therese's 24 years of life.
As St. Therese' had humble beginnings, special attention was taken to provide simple building materials using stone, brick and the limited use of wood for construction materials. The entire building layout focusing on the center Altar and image of St. Therese' etched in the Chancel glass wall through which there are views of her statue built out into the lake behind the Chapel. Photos by Tony Soluri