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St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church

St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church is designed to create a lively experience for parishioners and the surrounding community that draws one into the church and inspires.

Mission: If this rebuilt church does nothing else, it should create a journey of welcome, integrating a diverse, multicultural and multigenerational community that fosters a deeper evangelization through liturgy and sacrament (Shrine of the Penitent), reflecting a prayerful, reverent encounter with the beauty of the transcendent, while inspiring serenity, refuge, worship and mission that reflects our Catholic identity.

New Catholic Church (St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church)

Kentwood, Michigan
Project Size: 301+800 seats
Completion Date: January 15, 2015

St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church is designed to create an experience for all parishioners and for the surrounding community that draws one into the church and has a safe, welcoming presence in the neighborhood. The axial journey that one follows into the church extends outdoors for visibility and strength. The spiritual presence of the church is communicated through texture, materiality and height.

A transparent and lively gathering area supports pre and post worship activities, and welcomes parishioners and visitors into the church. Serving as the hub for parishioners and a front door to the community, the high gathering space serves to evangelize. The spirituality of the space is created with the use of natural lighting and texture. The floor to ceiling glass showcases the activity within the church to the community.

The sanctuary is framed carefully to connect one to nature and their spirituality. This experience is highlighted with clerestory daylighting and stained glass artistry. The presence of the organ pipes and chambers highlight the importance of music and worship. Portraying beauty and mystery, the tabernacle is placed on the sanctuary, sheltered by a bronze baldacchino sculpture.

The gathering space extends from high to low, creating a quiet and reverent axial journey to the chapel that supports the idea of procession and draws parishioners in. The axis is marked by the direct and repetitive nature of the stone, as well as the path marked by a flooring and ceiling transition. The weight of the repeated columns, highlighted by the large module size, give a participant the sense of enclosure, reverence, and focus.

The journey to the chapel is visible from the exterior, similar to worship this is an axial journey that leads one from the outdoors to the altar in the chapel. Prior to entering the chapel the ceiling raises, bringing daylighting to the doorway, and emphasizing a spiritual threshold. The carved wood doors quiet one down as they enter the light filled chapel.

Upon exiting the church, one is spiritually inspired to evangelize within the greater community. The architecture aims to serve as a beacon for the community and known as a place that is safe, welcoming, and spiritual.

St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church received the 2016 AIA Grand Rapids, Michigan Building Merit Award.

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