Marine Corps Chapel Honored with Gold Nugget Merit Award

Marine Corps Chapel by Fentress Architects

Quantico, Virginia (July 25, 2012) For its simplicity, serenity, and purity of form and materials, the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel in Quantico, Virginia has been honored with a 2012 Gold Nugget Merit Award. The oldest and most prestigious design awards program in the country, the Golden Nugget Awards recognize excellence and innovation in the design and building industry. The awards are the highlight of PCBC – the largest trade show and conference in the U.S. building industry.

Design for People

Completed in 2009, the 2,276 square-foot Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel enables friends and families to honor the sacrifices of fallen heroes and loved ones, or host events and ceremonies that look to the future. Expansive glass walls, etched with text expressing time-tested Marine Corps ideals, are framed by natural fieldstone and timber columns to establish a seamless relationship with nature. The chapel’s location offers a commanding hilltop view of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, while chapel and museum are physically linked by a network of intricately landscaped trails through Semper Fidelis Memorial Park. The connection alludes to the Corps’ motto of Semper Fi, or “Always Faithful.”

Aspects of the Chapel are intended to speak a soldier’s language, with rectangular wood and stone pews that reference ammo boxes, and a sharply defined slate roof that evokes a humble tarp. The ceiling’s open-truss natural timber structure features exposed diagonal wood decking illuminated by soft indirect lighting that becomes a singular design element.


The Chapel was designed to meet standards for LEED Silver certification. The design includes a geothermal HVAC system and a mechanical system that service a large, glass-walled space. This was achieved with a hidden under-floor air distribution delivery system for energy efficiency and comfort.

Project Completion: September 2009
Primary Materials: Timber, glass, stone
Size of Building: 2,276 square feet
Architect: Fentress Architects
General Contractor: Forrester Construction
Electrical Engineer: Hankins & Anderson
Structural Engineer: Ammann + Whitney
Civil Engineer: Patton Harris Rust & Associates