Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sorting files occasionally is fun.

Of the photos I've taken, this is a favorite. I took a half-day off of work one summer to photograph the church where I grew up. Mainly this post is to share the image, but I also kind of want to ramble about church renovations.

This particular building was renovated about 25 years after it was built. On the one hand, there's the existing architecture - majestic glue-laminated wood structure, brilliant stained glass. Since it was the 70s, the altar, ambo, and whatever-you-call-the-thing-that-holds-the-tabernacle were all wood. For some reason, deep red carpet throughout. Paint accents, for the few bits of statuary and in the sanctuary, were burnt orange and sand. Like I said, 70s. But within its own character. The renovation took place under 5 years ago. Sanctuary has stone or cast-stone tile, mostly in a pale slate blue. New carpet is a deeper blue, but not super-saturated; in fact, kind of an inoffensive dark blue, but not navy (true or conventional). The sanctuary set is white stone - which I don't mind. But the whole front of the church is in a different character than the original architecture, and that makes me sad. The stained glass is really brilliant, but it's rare to be there with the lights low.

My grandparents' church was built around the same time, and in a similar character. The whole thing's been painted white and is as sterile as an airport terminal - in fact, there's little to indicate that it's a church at all. The pews were replaced with chairs (please, if there is a community center, why and when would they be rearranged?). It's brighter, all right, but I'd have put in the white soffits and stopped before making the walls or native wood structure white. When a building actually expresses its structure, especially these gorgeous wood ones (think massive, often arching, members), it's architectural blasphemy to whitewash it.

What happened? The pastor wanted something, and some hapless architect, probably against his better judgement, carried it out.

3 comments:

Jon said...

The universal designer's lament. <sigh>

Trev Diesel said...

I love that picture, Julie.

anonymous julie said...

Jon - the occasions when a client just wants somebody with vision is rare. Usually they think they can do our job. Obviously.

Trev, thanks!