Welcome to Curbed's first-ever Micro Week, five days' worth of stories, photos, and minuscule floorplans that celebrate the grand tradition of small-space living. We'll tour small homes, explore the city's smallest neighborhood, and so much more!
When you think of USC, reverence and spirituality may not be the first things that come to mind. But tucked behind a humdrum administrative building lies a surprising site of introspection: The Little Chapel of Silence.
The Chapel is somewhat removed from the bustle of campus life, so it's easy to miss, but those who do stumble across it are often moved by its intimacy. Smaller than most bedrooms, it can barely fit 20 people into its three rows of pews. It is open early 'til late on weekdays, but most times, if you were to visit, you would be the only one there.
When it was built in in 1935, the Chapel was designed to be a space for self-reflection rather than proselytizing, so no regular services are held there, although occasionally alumni who have formed a strong emotional connection to the Chapel have held weddings and memorial services over the years.
The University strives to make it a space for interfaith self-reflection. The stained glass is in simple patterns and the carved tree in the front of the chapel is universal enough to be the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge, or even the Bodhi Tree of Buddhism.
But one of the most powerful features of the Chapel is its prayer box. Visitors can write their prayers on small sheets of paper and place them in the box. Once a year, in a ritual ceremony, a student group holds a ceremony in which those prayers are read aloud and then burned. Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni and Associate Dean Jim Burklo say that, through those prayers, they can see the significance that the Chapel has for the campus community. The prayers come from different religious traditions, they're written in many different languages, and they reflect the range of human emotions.
So if you find yourself on USC's campus and need a moment to yourself—lor you want to put in a good word for the Trojans—the Little Chapel of Silence is the perfect little hideaway. —Leonard Hyman
· Micro Week 2015 [Curbed LA]