Worship space design is driven to some degree by the functional aspects of liturgy, acoustics, sightlines, and other considerations. Symbolism and aesthetics also play major roles. On occasion, it is necessary to reach beyond the usual design challenges and conceive of project that embodies the rich heritage of a particular congregation in ways that reflect its pride and accomplishment such was the case at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church is located in in Rosenberg, Texas, where immigrant families from Mexico have come together for generations to worship the Lord. This growing parish sits on the outskirts of the Houston metropolitan area, which is now intergenerational and economically diverse.
When the church embarked on its effort to create a new house of worship, it directed the architects to achieve a few vital things. First, the architecture need to be a fitting expression of honor for the "Empress of the Americas," the namesake for the parish. In order to accomplish this, the architects chose to base the design on a Spanish Colonial concept. At Our Lady of Guadalupe, white stucco walls, red roofing (tile and metal), Spanish baroque decorative motifs in relief on the walls and in windows, and stone arches all converge to produce an architectural composition of timelessness and cultural appropriateness.
New Church (Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church)
Project Size: 301-800 seats
Completion Date: February 27, 2015
Second, a plaza was required for social gathering and celebrations. Towns and villages in Mexico are centered around a church and square in which community activities occur. This same sort of public space would be integral at Our Lady of Guadalupe. The expansive plaza is focused on the main entry to the worship space. It bounded by other church facilities that feed directly into the space. All of the elements drawn from the Spanish baroque architectural heritage are incorporated into the design hardscape ground surface, landscape providing shade and color, and flowing water.
Third, the worship space needed to be visually expressive of the Mexican-American culture of the congregation. Not only would the design need to draw upon the historical themes mentioned above, it needed to use materials and colors that would be at home in a North American context and would also introduce visual energy into the space. This was achieved by means of the shrine incorporated near the altar table and the "sunburst" of gold leaf on the backdrop wall. It was also accomplished with a soaring dome that gives this relatively modestly-sized church of 650 seats a cathedral-like presence. Native timber structural framing and stone flooring complete the assemblage.
By drawing upon a few historic and cultural connections desired by the client, a design was devised that not only achieved the specific goals set forth by the client, but ended up reaching well beyond the specifics of its location to communicate the pride and Christian devotion of its congregation.