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

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

Sacred Place is Home For The Arts

August 31, 2012 by: Clovis Heimsath

In the early 1970s our firm had just completed an innovative branch library in a developing area of Northwest Houston. It was an instant community success and shortly thereafter the pastor of a local church, Glen Wilkerson met with me to share his vision for a new kind of church ministry.  He wanted to create a sacred place that would also be a home for the arts.  Cypress Creek Christian Church ... Read More

Design Process / Church Design & Construction / Worship Space / Holy Place / Artists / Master Plan

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

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

The Church and Development - What's Missing Here?

May 11, 2012 by: Clovis Heimsath

After the 2nd World War, many cities in Europe were rebuilt as New Towns.  These developments were based on many of the principals of the Garden City Movement, promoted by Ebenezer Howard.  These New Towns became an important precedent for American suburbs, though most often without the encumbrances of the European regulatory environment.  But we missed one thing the Europeans got right.  The ... Read More

Design Process / Church Design & Construction / Worship Space / Holy Place / Sacred Architecture / Master Plan

What Is A Church? An Outsider's Perspective

April 30, 2012 by: Li Tong

As one of many native Chinese who were born in mid 80s and raised in central China, I had little exposure to religion or places of religious worship. If you had asked me “what is a church” several years ago, my answer probably would be a gothic cathedral with large stained glass windows, long somber corridors and loud ringing bells or a similar architype from history. Most of my early knowledge ... Read More

Church Design & Construction / Worship Space / Holy Place / Sacred Architecture

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

What is a Narthex?

March 15, 2012 by: Clovis Heimsath

 What is a Narthex?  Why is it so important in church design?  The Narthex is the entry space for worship.  It is a space where all the worshippers gather together before and after service.  The Catholic Bishops define the term in their publication, Built of Living Stones:  “The narthex is a place of welcome—a threshold space between the congregation's space and the outside environment. In the ... Read More

Holy Place / Worship Space / Sacred Architecture / Church Design & Construction / Design Process / site development

Adoration Chapel Stained Glass

February 24, 2012 by: Ben Heimsath

We're pleased to announce that the Adoration Chapel stained glass windows designed by Ben Heimsath for Emmaus Catholic Church in Lakeway, Texas are featured in a great article in this month's Catholic Spirit.  The monthly newspaper is published by the Diocese of Austin and features notable events and activities in the Central Texas region. The firm completed the new Parish Activity Center last ... Read More

Church Design & Construction / Worship Space / Liturgical Arts / Holy Place / Sacred Architecture

A City Chapel in the Historic Cemetery

September 1, 2011 by: Li Tong

In 1914, Austin built a city chapel for all faiths. This small structure, located in the city’s oldest cemetery, has the potential to be a one-of-a-kind landmark. In the United States, very few, if any, non-denominational chapels were built and owned by municipal governments.   The Oakwood Cemetery Chapel is located in the center of the oldest cemetery in Austin, Texas. Both the Oakwood Cemetery ... Read More

Church Design & Construction / Historic Preservation / Promotion / Liturgical Arts / Holy Place / Austin

Liturgical Focus - American Martyrs Catholic Church in California

July 16, 2011 by: Ben Heimsath

Does the activity of worship transform a space?  Yes, absolutely it does.  Ceremonial elements or liturgical objects convey meaning even when no one is present.  In most Christian faiths, the altar, pulpit, or baptismal font are the primary objects.  One of these will generally become the liturgical focus. I visited the American Martyrs Catholic Church in Manhattan Beach, California and saw a ... Read More

Holy Place / Sacred Architecture / Church Design & Construction / Liturgical Arts