Tuesday, July 27, 2010
St. Joseph's Church, Wenatchee, Washington
Our Lady of Fatima, Moses Lake, Washington
Christ the King Church, Richland, Washington
It has been said and proven over time that even an open field can be a sacred place. What makes it sacred is often the will of those who attend to it and bring their beliefs to the act of communion with God. However, over the millennia man has sought to build special places that, through their architectural expression, give form to the sacred and create a purposeful and immeasurable dimension to the religious experience. Michael J. Crosbie, in his book "Houses of God, Religious Architecture for a New Millennium" has said of sacred places that "Through their embellishment and adornment, they tell us stories. These Buildings are "books" that can be "read" recounting articles of faith." Most of us can recognize a church, mosque or synagogue by the form, materials and presence the building offers. They sit as major buildings in our neighborhoods acting as centers of the community. Their materials are carefully selected and brought together to express their role and, through their detailing, to enhance the reading of the building as sacred.
Inside the emphasis on the quality of light, the majestic character of space, the verticality and the focus and organization of the space furthers the story that this space is sacred. On closer examination these spatial qualities are reinforced and enhanced by the use of familiar materials put together with care and attention to craft. The making of a sacred space is an important event that depends on the balance achieved between the conception of the design and the smallest details. When these elements all come together no one needs to tell you the space is sacred, your experience makes it so.
Doug Benson, AIA
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Photos by Loren Nelson
The Church complex provides a main Nave with seating for 900, a Daily Chapel that seats 100, Administrative offices and a two story Education/Fellowship Hall wing. The design is organized around a courtyard that provides space for Easter Vigil and other liturgical events as well as acting as a Parish gathering space. On the interior the Nave's arched truss central clerestory form recalls the hand hewn oak trusses of the original church this replaced and adds an element of respect and memory of the church's history for future generations. Though more abstract, the Reredos wall uses warm woods to also recall the original church and create a more dramatic backdrop for worship.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
In Lewiston, Idaho, three individual Parishes are in the process of combining into one and are planning to build a new Campus to include the Church, Social Hall and Elementary School on a 42 acre site. MCM Architects are creating a long term master plan and the design and construction drawings for the Church and Social Hall. The project is organized around a central courtyard that creates a common point of entry to all the facilities and allows the church to be directly visible from inside the school. The overall form and materials of the project are traditional in nature with an emphasis on Roman Bascilica Churches for inspiration. A tower from one of the three existing Churches will be relocated and rescaled to act as a Sheep Gate entry marker to the courtyard.
We believe that the design of a sacred space is in itself an act of faith. The Architect and the Congregation must share a belief that, through collaboration and a shared set of values, they can create a space that will serve not only the present members but also future generations. That faith and the results of several centuries of Church architecture continue to inform each new building that is built for every faith, in every corner of the world. Religious structures are testaments to a deep collaboration between us as Architects and the Congregations and Clergy, who through their consent, allow us to bring forth our creative energy to assist in their service to God. Great sacred architecture is always a collaboration.
In this project the lineage of the old churches represents an important part of the community and we are committed to bringing elements of that collective memory forward in the creation of a new sacred place. A worship space is by nature a place of memory. We endeavor to reflect that memory in ways that are both direct and recognizable as will as abstract and representative of the spirit of the old place.
Doug Benson, AIA
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The existing conditions
The design concept
The finished product
The space between the main classroom building and the Student Union at Marylhurst University in Lake Oswego, Oregon, was a parking lot and service yard for deliveries and garbage collection from the kitchen. So every day people had to wind their way through a parking lot and past the trash bins to get between the two main campus buildings. There was also about a six foot change in elevation. The design concept for the space was to use the simple and clean modernist elevation of the Commons building as a stage backdrop for a casual landscape amphitheater. The stage has become a gathering place for students and faculty. The movable furniture can be rearranged to meet a multitude of activities, from small classes to catered events or performances. Two diagonal ramps provide ADA accessibility and are placed to facilitate connection to areas of campus on either side. This way the ADA accessible route is not an awkward set of ramps placed to the side, but is the main circulation path used by everyone.
This is an example of how a major impact can be made on the usability, character and image of a campus for a relatively small amount of money.