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

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

Chapel of the Holy Cross Proves Architectural Ideas Take Time

December 11, 2013 by: Ben Heimsath

How did an unrealized design concept for an urban cathedral eventually give rise to a desert chapel?  Some architectural ideas take a long time to develop, but this one really took some interesting twists and turns. This fall, I visited the Never Built:  Los Angeles show at the A+D Architecture & Design museum in Los Angeles.  I was surprised to discover an early, though vastly different, ... Read More

Architects and Construction / Design Process / Church Design & Construction / Worship Space / Sacred Architecture / modern architecture

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

Church Design & Construction / Historic Preservation / Sacred Architecture

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

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

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

The Church Design Process – Does It Look Like a Church?

March 21, 2013 by: Ben Heimsath

In the early stages of a church design, when we begin working with congregation members, someone inevitably will say “I want this to look like a church.” In most instances, the person has a strong image in mind, often based on the church where they grew up.  The person may also be expressing displeasure with the current building, which, by implication, does not look like a church. But what should ... Read More

Design Process / Church Design & Construction / Worship Space / Sacred Architecture

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

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

Architects and Construction / Historic Preservation / Sacred Architecture / Austin

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