Adaptive Reuse: From Church to Cabaret in Canada

January 6, 2015 by: Ben Heimsath

When several communities north of Montreal were merged in 2005, an unused church building, formerly known as Sacré-Coeur-de-Jésus (Sacred Heart of Jesus) became the property of the new township. A straightforward adaptive reuse program kept the exterior of the old church, while on the inside, the old Sacred Heart was transformed into a musical theater venue. The new village of Mont Tremblant ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use / Historic Preservation

Church Reuse is a Magic Carpet Ride

April 21, 2014 by: Ben Heimsath

If you don't already know of one, there's a good chance you'll be seeing an abandoned church sometime soon.  Last year, I noted that experts in historic preservation convened a conference in New York to begin examining this growing phenomenon.  Many older cities, experiencing population declines, have become painfully aware of the loss of their major landmarks.  As congregations either move away ... Read More

Worship Space / Sacred Architecture / Adaptive Re-use / Historic Preservation

Is Demolition OK? – Six Essential Questions

March 14, 2014 by: Ben Heimsath

Before you demolish an older building, remember, the decision is final.  Whatever value, history or opportunity for reuse that might have been possible will be gone forever!  Our firm has long been associated with historic preservation and creative re-use of older buildings, so it may seem surprising that this blogpost is about tearing buildings down.  I served for five years on Austin’s Historic ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use / building codes / Sustainable Deisgn / Historic Preservation

Disappearing Steeples? Not These Churches!

June 23, 2013 by: Ben Heimsath

How did I miss the eulogy for church steeples?  Apparently, in 2011, a reporter from US News and World Report noticed lots of disappearing steeples, and penned an article to mark the trend.  While there’s no question that some congregations have difficulty maintaining older buildings, our experience is that steeples, and similar structures, are increasingly important for churches and places of ... Read More

Sacred Architecture / Church Design & Construction / Historic Preservation

Church Closure - No Easy Solution

April 21, 2013 by: Ben Heimsath

In the past decade, there have been increasing instances of church closure.  So what happens when a church is no longer needed?  When a congregation moves, or a denomination consolidates, something must be done with the old places.  Other congregations, or sympathetic groups may purchase and re-use the structures.  However, without a program or strategy for transition, many of these buildings ... Read More

Holy Place / Sacred Architecture / Adaptive Re-use / Historic Preservation

Church Steeple Restoration - Our Lady of Guadalupe in Austin

April 16, 2013 by: Ben Heimsath

  The church steeple restoration at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Austin is nearly complete.  The project consisted of replacing most of the exterior materials on the original tower and restoring the original trim profiles.   The church called upon Heimsath Architect’s expertise when a portion of a column fell to the ground.  Originally constructed in the 1950’s, the church tower had been patched and ... Read More

Sacred Architecture / Church Design & Construction / Master Plan / Historic Preservation

Church Design - Then and Now

June 20, 2012 by: Ben Heimsath

  Christ Episcopal Church in Temple, Texas was built in 1915.  There are so many things that have changed in our society in the past 100 to 150 years, it's surprising that in many ways, today's church is a lot like the place of worship in the 20th, or even the 19th Century.  In some important ways, however, church design in the 21st Century can be radically different.  While there has been a lot ... Read More

Holy Place / Worship Space / Sacred Architecture / Church Design & Construction / Adaptive Re-use / Liturgical Arts / Historic Preservation

Building Restoration After Catastrophe

May 22, 2012 by: Ben Heimsath

The Atlantic Cities website ran photos and news this week about the earthquake in Italy.  This strikes a chord with us in Central Texas.  No, we don't have priceless renaissance buildings here, but we continue to grapple with major events that challenge us to re-examine our building processes and consider key issues of building restoration.   These sobering photos remind us to consider all ... Read More

Sacred Architecture / Austin / Architects and Construction / Historic Preservation

Liturgical Objects Get A New Life

March 21, 2012 by: Maryann Heimsath

Here's an interesting feature on the Museum of Divine Statues, a new establishment for preserving discarded liturgical objects. Among the many challenges posed by the closing of an old church or religious building is what happens to the sacred art or liturgical objects. They've been part of sacred rituals or prayers by generations of worshippers.  They can't be tossed out or just sent to a yard ... Read More

Holy Place / Worship Space / Church Design & Construction / Memorial / Adaptive Re-use / Liturgical Arts / Historic Preservation

Building Conservation - A Great Resource at the University of Texas

February 16, 2012 by: Li Tong

  One and a half years after graduating from the Historic Preservation Program at University of Texas at Austin, I went back to the School of Architecture and took a tour of its prominent Architectural Conservation Lab, a great building conservation resource. Fran Gale, the director of the lab, was hosting a session with the students from her Materials Conservation class. The students were asked ... Read More

Austin / Technology / Historic Preservation