The Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Institute of Architects awarded Celli-Flynn Brennan with the “Timeless Award” for the design of the Novitiate Chapel at Seton Hill. This building was erected in the mid 60’s and was conceived as a simple chapel for the sisters and novices who were considering the religious life. The building is made of Pennsylvania fieldstone, natural flagstone, clear glass, natural wood and a slate roof. The building stands behind Ennis Hall off Mt. Thor Rd. and is attached to the former Novitiate at that same location.

A simple stone and glass exterior with a steeply sloping slate roof blends very well with Ennis Hall, a stone and slate mansion from the 1920’s. The roof shape with its truncated gable was conceived to reflect the similar treatment on the mansion. Other defining characteristics are the clear glass sidewalls, the flagstone flooring and the natural walnut furnishings.

Architecture is often judged by how campy it is the day it’s first erected and how architectural trends affect its design. Somewhat to the contrary, much of the architecture of Celli-Flynn Brennan over our 62 year history has been specifically geared to designing buildings that (a) fit well with their surroundings, (b) use natural and local materials where possible and (c) are of a character appropriate to the use. In this case, a space appropriate to prayer.

The building was designed to be a quiet place for prayer. The design incorporated a contemporary altar screen, communion rail and pews executed by George Nakashima, an internationally known Pennsylvania woodworker, whose craftsmanship has received wide acclaim over the last 40 years. The office of Celli-Flynn Brennan collaborated with Mr. Nakashima on a number of projects and this one has just been recognized again for its design excellence.

Celli-Flynn Brennan also won a “Timeless Award” for the Hillman Library at the University of Pittsburgh a few years ago.

To view a complete list of the Design Pittsburgh 2012 winners visit

Quote Midwest Reader – regarding the documentary of the Timeless Award…a philosophical view article

“How really wonderful for both Mario and Tom. We send our congratulations. Legacies are intended to be forever and the chapel goes directly to that point. As Tom says in the article we are a “tear down” nation and so many of our intended beautiful legacies are gone forever. But this one has been saved; and, even though we have never seen it – we are very proud to know of a man who has continued a dream. It must be a peaceful place for contemplation. We can only imagine!”


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