Featured Project

St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church

Sparta, NJ

One of the main design features of the project is the introduction of the garden walls. Heretofore, most church buildings, as a matter of convenience, face onto a sea of parked cars. Little thought is ever given to the approach to the building and to the place of worship. The usual approach is quite direct and ineffective with little time to experience an adjustment from parking lot to worship space.

At St. Kateri, considerable time was spent in designing the approach and sequence of events that take place once the car is left behind and the journey to the worship space is realized. The garden walls provide a partial visual and physical barrier between active space, the parking lot, and the passive space, the prayer garden and pedestrian plaza. The walls help to form a containment, gathering the people together to accommodate human activity, both spiritual and social. The openings in the walls provide short and long views while experiencing movement in space time and the visual and physical change of textures.

Completed in 1993, this project was the first of its kind in the sense that it was constructed as a modified design-build project. That is, the architect was in contract with the owner directly. The project was designed within the limits of the budget with the contractor acting as construction consultant during the development of the construction documents. This procedure assured that that the completed documents would not exceed the guaranteed budget price.

The project contains a total of 21,000 sq.ft.; 12,000 on the first level which contains worship space, gathering space, pre-school room, hospitality room/children's liturgy, nursery, and daily mass chapel. Garden walls surround the prayer garden and atrium plaza. The lower level containing 8,000 sq.ft. provides a social hall, kitchen, administrative offices, toilets, conference room, storage, and an elevator servicing both levels.