Whether we realize it or not, we're always searching. We're always looking for answers and truths and a sense of connection. Part of that thirst to know more about ourselves is slaked when we look back to those who were here before us. And understanding them entails looking at remnants from their lives.
More often than not we find answers in books and through travel, but most especially we feel that never-ending sense of humanity when we enter sacred spaces. You know it when it happens. Some element or elements come flying at you at light speed the minute you breath in the air of a church built 1500 years ago or stand in a common square in an ancient city or on land that was untouched for centuries.
Those living 3000 years from now will want to understand us also.
The Ebenezer Chapel project is about addressing this very need to make something sustainable, relevant and representative of who WE are at this very moment for those who will come long after we're gone.
How do we speak to those we will never meet while providing inspiration in the near future?
"Ebenezer," despite what you may recall from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, actually means "stone of help" (1 Samuel 7:12). Our mission is to build an underground chapel, carved out of a granite mass that has existed for more than 500 million years, that will feel like a place of help... and of hope.
Mark Boone believes that God works miracles. He thinks a lot about the future, loves history and is the founder of Markus Group Ltd., a Raleigh, NC based company that serves as a contract manufacturer for medical and consumer goods. In his 40-plus years of experience he has accumulated more than 3 million air miles and conducted business on every continent except Antarctica. He is no stranger to high technology manufacturing having spent nearly two decades working in the nuclear power and defense sectors.
"My desire for the completed Ebenezer Chapel is to provide people with a place to come in quiet solitude for meditation, prayer and contemplation. The art displayed will tell the story of who we are as a people in the early 2000’s and point to Christ as the one who came two millennia earlier to offer the path to salvation. It will allow visitors to see creation up close, allowing them to touch the very rock that forms the structure while seeing natural light pouring in. My hope is even in the year 7000 people coming to the chapel will not need a tour guide. Even though they are likely to speak a language entirely different from any spoken today, they will be able to interpret the designed message for themselves."
Mark loves putting people at ease when hosting events and gatherings for family, friends, business associates and neighbors. He understands that when people are relaxed, they end up feeling refreshed and renewed. He wants the same for those who visit the Ebenezer Chapel and park: put away your worries and find healing in quiet communion with the Father.
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ .... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34
Inspired by old architecture and the ancient structures of people who lived many thousands of years ago, he hopes that the Chapel will represent who we are and share who we were. He is convinced Ebenezer Chapel is divinely inspired.
Xavier Vilalta is the founder and director of Vilalta Arquitectura, and despite his youth, he is already a distinguished international architect specializing in sustainability and innovation. His work combines leading edge technology with local resources and culture to create contemporary designs that suit their environment.
Before his firm gained eminence, he was an associate professor at ETSAB, Barcelona's School of Architecture, where he taught design and mentored graduate projects.
Various institutions worldwide have recognized Xavier’s innovation in the architecture and among his awards is the Young Architect of the Year at the LEAF Awards in 2008. In 2011, he became a Fellow of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), becoming the first Spaniard to receive this award and to be a lecturer at the annual conference in California.
He has been invited to lecture at events such as TED Global in Scotland, Fundação Galouste Gulbenkian in Portugal, and Commercial Real Estate Week in Kazakhstan. He has also collaborated with global brands such as Porsche Automobil and Oliberte Footwear as a keynote speaker and brand ambassador.
For the Ebenezer Chapel project, Xavier was an obvious choice as Lead Architect. He has brought together a pre-eminent team and will coordinate with each of the members so that the project is cohesive and moves forward strategically and tactically. His office is across the street from Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, so he has daily access to inspiration.
“I love working hand-in-hand with Mark [Boone], who’s a visionary developer, and this group of engineers who are the very best in their class. Through this project, we hope to make the space of God appear. It’s already there and this Chapel will tell people how we were living in the beginning of the 21st century, what we believed and how we were able to build such a space.”
Driven by his own spirituality and passion for architecture and nature, Xavier brings all the elements together both personally and professionally. When not working, he loves sports, any activity that brings him to the middle of nature - especially the beach and submerging into culture - be it popular or artistic.
Andrew has lived and worked in Architecture in Raleigh since 1998, building and drawing from a broad base of project experience. Recent work on city-scale mixed-use developments has required extensive coordination and affinity among city, client, tenant, and technical demands. Team-oriented work sessions during design and construction have resulted in excellent built work, with amicable and profitable conclusions for all parties involved. Andrew has experience in all phases of architectural service, including feasibility studies, programming, design, systems coordination, construction documents production, specifications, multi-prime contracts, public bidding, field construction administration, and LEED certification.
Dr. Higini Arau is the Founder and Director of Arau Acustica - a professional acoustic engineering studio in Barcelona. For more than 40 years, the Arau team has worked in every aspect of architectural acoustics, civil and industrial engineering, and urban, industrial and traffic noise mitigation and design.
Arau Acoustica is comprised of a highly trained and multidisciplinary team with advanced degrees and certifications from the engineering and architecture departments at top universities that specialize in acoustics. This team is at the top of its game in acoustic and vibrational technology for measurements and calculations in all settings, especially architectural.
"Our goal for Ebenezer Chapel is to use the science of acoustics, imagination, our depth of experience and new ideas to exceed expectations."
Higini is personally inspired by music and sound of all kinds, reads constantly and loves learning more about the science of sound. His team includes Technical Director Oriol Arau, Project Technicians Jordi Oliver, Maria Jutglar, Pau Checa and Joaquim Arau.
Jordi Pascual is the coordinator of the technical team at AIGUASOL. Since 1999, AIGUASOL has provided innovative solutions in engineering and research to reduce the impact associated with energy consumption.
Jordi’s focus as a building physics specialist is to optimize the energy consumption conditions for Ebenezer Chapel, which includes both lighting and thermal aspects of the space. “The challenge of designing an integrated space, something that works in harmony with nature and where users feel at ease and comfortable,” is his particular attraction to this project.
A component of AIGUASOL’s success is pursuing organizational transformation while focusing on social responsibility, innovation, training and quality. Using an integrated vision, this group specializes in urban planning, construction, industrial processes and power generation, with an approach that provides for energy planning and savings, measures energy efficiency, and processes integration and renewable energy implementation.
The AIGUASOL team, located in Barcelona, is made up of more than twenty high-level scientific and technical professionals, including doctors, engineers, architects and physicists, who have notable experience in the energy sector, both in private companies and in research centers.
Ted Bartelt founded Alpha & Omega Group in 1998 and is the President and Principal-In-Charge of civil and structural engineering projects.
Ted's three decades of experience range from investigations of buildings, bridges, dams, and other types of structures to designing bridges, buildings, industrial facilities, equipment supports, concrete tilt-up design, flood studies, storm water impoundment design, erosion control design, water and sanitary system design, retaining wall design, concrete repair, parking lot design, general site development, project specifications, cost estimates, and construction administration. He and his team are also the very best at what they do and the team committed to the project are "in" for the professional challenge and personal reasons: "We love all of the aspects of this project. In particular, we love the thought of honoring God with a project that will last thousands of years and has the potential of reaching an infinite number of souls for Christ."
"At A&O, we seek to honor God through the various engineering services that we provide. The Ebenezer Chapel project has elements of all three engineering practices as part of this unique project. Ebenezer Chapel is located along Richland Creek and A&O has been involved with Raleigh's greenways throughout its history and will coordinate with the City staff regarding the future Richland Creek Greenway."
Part of the attraction to this project, beyond A&O's ability to provide expertise in civil, structural and water resources is the ability to work with Mark Boone and being part of "a project that will last thousands of years, like the Egyptian pyramids or the Roman Coliseum. It's awe-inspiring."
At a TEDxYouth Talk, Ebenezer Chapel's Lead Architect, Xavier Vilalta "goes deep" to explore the project and importance of an underground time capsule and Chapel - from inspiration to design.