Sorting through a stack of papers, I ran across a thank you letter from Father Whilhite who was pastor at St. Albert of Trapani in Houston when we renovated/expanded the church last year. He wrote:
"We all knew that the project was not easy and presented great challenges. You shepherded us through the journey in a professional and capable way making the experience less stressful and daunting. To be sure, many obstacles had to be surpassed but you walked with us every step of the way. We appreciate your tenacity and wisdom in keeping the project on budget and on time without sacrificing quality."
Aside from making me feel good, this reminded me of one of the roles I cherish most about architecture; Shepherd. It is one thing to create a design that will win awards, or to detail a building so that it will be functional and efficient (both of which we do well), but to be able to shepherd the design vision from its earliest concepts to final completion is a wonderful thing. You never know where the wolves are hiding, it may be budget, it may be complications from the design (and trust me St. Albert was complicated), it may be city processes (also a challenge at St. Albert), or it may be construction issues, but there are always wolves. The architect must be able to understand and explain the issues that arise and help the team find the best solution and keep the process moving. This is especially true for churches (and residences) where the clients are most often not used to building and the issues that can arise.
St. Albert of Trapani needed to nearly double their seating capacity, add an adoration chapel, and improve their circulation. However they were not ready to build a new sanctuary so we expanded and updated their 1960s sanctuary and fellowship hall. Throughout even the earliest vision sessions we talked of how to relate to the existing architecture while giving a new fresh look. There were many many wolves, as expected, in a complicated renovation and expansion, but we made it through and a created a space that will be there for generations to enjoy.
New Tower and Entry Foyer.
Stained Glass Crucifix Unifies Church and Chapel. The cross has internal lighting so it can glow from either side.
New Imersion Baptism and Font. Two sided stained glass Crucifix and two sided are shared with the Church and Adoration Chapel