May 18, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

This church façade has interested me for a long while. The diagram is so clear. The big brick wall is clearly enclosing a large industrial space. But there’s a church inside. So, in order to show this building serves a congregation, the designer opted for a diagram of the classic church. At the start of my 365 challenge, the ChurchaDay project, I blogged about this classic church diagram and how it has come to represent a generic church.

 AustinCornerstonereinli.jpg

The image on this building is simply a graphic diagram. There is no actual bell tower, there is no actual pitched roof. But the effect, even though it’s not refined architectural design, is still very effective. The doorway is clearly marked and the diagram provides a scaled down frame to the traditional red church doors. Even though the church represented in the diagram isn’t real, it does add an inviting feeling to the approach.

AustinCornerstone1_1.jpgImagine approaching these doors if there were no other adornment on the big brick wall; it would feel hostile, uninviting. That was my impression many years ago, when I’m pretty sure this building housed a recreation / reception center. There was no church diagram then; my son had been dropped off at the recreation center for a classmate’s bar mitzvah party. I don’t recall very much about the space or the party, but I do have an image of what I saw when I drove up at night to pick him up. Approaching an unmarked door, I hesitantly pulled it open to reveal a glare of bright lights. Though the approach wasn’t very welcoming, the gaggle of of adolescents playing basketball inside reassured me I was at the right place.

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail indicating that this building is being offered for sale. I hope some time soon to arrange to see the interior. I’m curious about the extent the Austin Cornerstone used traditional or contemporary church images or symbols to complement the diagram outside.

I don’t know where the Austin Cornerstone will be moving, but it is possible a new church will move in to replace them. Or, the building could be sold for strictly secular uses. So this place may go back to it’s non-church origins, or it may continue to be used for a congregation. I know the building can be readily adapted once again for a new use, but the future of the church diagram remains in doubt.

Austin Cornerstone, 1101 Reinli St, Austin, Texas  

Worship Space/ Austin/ Sacred Symbols