Chapel’s Curved Brick Screen Wall at St. Joseph’s Inspires Jesuit Ministry

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Perforated Structure Gives Masonry An Unexpectedly Airy Look

St. Joseph’s Arrupe Hall is an inspirational hub for Philadelphia’s Jesuit community. The center brings together Jesuit priests from across the city to live and work in a collaborative ministry. Moto DesignShop created a symbolic space that blends modernity and tradition to ignite the Jesuits’ educational and spiritual work on campus and beyond.

At the heart of the hall is a curvilinear brick chapel. Its design pays homage to the Jesuit’s role in developing the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century, which today is the most widely used calendar in the world. The chapel is made up of 123 courses of bull nose and header brick. Together, they create an undulating screen that filters light and views inside the sanctuary. The screen steps back at each course by approximately 1/4 inch.

To bring the intricate design to life, each course of custom brick was laid out digitally in AutoCAD. A complete 3D Rhino model provided a visualization of the installation. Every brick in the screen was documented and labeled by its type and location. The masons on the project, members of BAC Local 1 Pennsylvania/Delaware with signatory contractor Lepore, were given a coursing plan for each layer. The crew used Hilti laser positioning to lay each course according to the plans, which they referenced both digitally and in print.

The perforated structure gives masonry an unexpectedly airy look, but a thoughtful structural system provides rigidity. The brick walls were reinforced using vertical rods through the courses. This allowed the brick to act as a continuous membrane, so that it could be tied to horizontal and vertical structural members behind it. That system, in turn, was tied back into the building structure, creating a rigid hidden skeleton with only the brick membrane visible.

From its design to its construction, St. Joseph’s Arrupe Hall pushes the boundaries of innovation, resulting in a building that creates community.

Moto DesignShop was honored in IMI’s JBC Masonry Innovation Competition for Arrupe Hall, among many other awards.

Rendering and completed project images courtesy of Moto DesignShop.


  • Drawing review
  • Education
  • Mockup panels
  • Job site visits

  • Brick
  • Stone
Project Team

BAC Local 1 Pennsylvania/Delaware
BAC Contractors:
General Contractor:
Hunter Roberts Construction Group
A/E Firms:
Moto DesignShop, Keast & Hood


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