This 23,000 square foot church serves as a place of worship for a Catholic community in Utah. The project includes a large entry and gathering space; elliptical sanctuary space that seats 800; liturgical and vesting spaces; administrative offices and conference space; a separate Day Chapel for daily mass, and a circular courtyard with a central water/fire feature. Named for the patron saint of laborers, this parish church has a rich history and cultural lineage rooted in the practices of construction trades and craftspeople. The design of the new church re-uses fundamental elements of an existing structure, and incorporates new steel, copper and hand-crafted wood components to reference the parish’s mining and construction history. Drawing from this lineage, a palette of materials was selected that expresses the transformation of the raw material by the worker, revealing the craft and method of construction. These materials include textural walls of board-formed concrete, constructed in the traditional method of stacking rough-sawn lumber; a rainscreen of clear-milled cedar; vertical-grain fir boards and timbers used to create the altar reredos and interior of the Day Chapel; and flat-seam copper panels that form the cladding for the Day Chapel (used more frequently than the main building for daily worship) and skylight structure over the altar. These copper panels, chosen because of the parish’s relationship with the local Kennecott Copper Mine, were cut and bent on site, versus factory fabricated.
The sanctuary geometry is composed of two offset ellipses: the outer ellipse contains the liturgical chapels and niches, and the inner ellipse completes the main sanctuary space. This elliptical form for the church was conceived as a true gathering geometry without corners, facilitating active participation from the community congregating there. These offset ellipses give the sense that the outer walls of the sanctuary are thickened (as much as 10’ at the furthest separation), referencing the uninhabitable poche wall – a rich historical precedent in sacred architecture – now rendered habitable for liturgical functions. The poche space creates liturgical functions including a chapel, a reconciliation room, prayer niches and other areas for statuary and religious art. The upper portion of the ellipse contains windows which relate in form and color to the twelve apostles. These windows contain colored, glazed panels, an affordable alternative and abstracted expression of traditional stained glass. The space changes throughout the day with the color of the apertures growing more intense when highlighted by the path of the sun.
Reclaimed elements retained from the pre-existing church on-site, and other sustainable products and systems, are integral to the design, both on the interior and exterior. Green aspects of the building and construction process provided the opportunity to demonstrate tangible and natural relationships between social ethics and environmental ethics. The concrete, for example, contains a high fly ash content and the formwork was re-used. The community benefits from reduced long-term costs associated with operating and maintaining an energy-efficient building. The church is designed to meet a LEED Silver certification.
This new worship project began with community outreach, programming and master planning phases led by Sparano + Mooney Architecture to help determine the vision for the replacement of a 1960's church and rectory building. The program document developed by the architects included a new church with plentiful seating, a modern parish rectory and a long-term master plan with improved site circulation and a revised parking layout. The new church architecture includes a sanctuary with sloping floors, fixed pews and a centralized altar and ambo, baptismal font at the entrance, reconciliation chapel and chapel of reservation. Other components of the award-winning design include a children's room, a hospitality room, parish offices and meeting rooms, and a large gathering space connecting to outdoor courtyard. The church incorporates sustainable design elements throughout and is powered by the renewable energy of solar panels.